Exclusive! The Hera Pheri Clash: Firoz A Nadiadwala vs Priyadarshan – Times of India

Over the years, the comedy, Hera Pheri (2000), directed by Priyadarshan has gone on to become a cult classic. The film starring Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, Paresh Rawal, and Tabu, produced by Firoz A Nadiadwala, was the remake of the Malayalam film, Ramji Rao Speaking (1989). When the Hindi film was released in the year 2000, the characters of the film Baburao (Paresh), Raju (Akshay), and Shyam (Suniel) became hugely popular, and some of the dialogues and scenes from the film remain unforgettable even to date.

In 2006, a sequel was made, titled Phir Hera Pheri, directed by the late Neeraj Vora (who wrote the screenplay and dialogues of Hera Pheri) and was backed by Nadiadwala. In the year 2015, Hera Pheri 3 was announced by Nadiadwala, with Paresh Rawal, John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan. The film went on floors briefly in June 2015, after which, it made little progress. Post that, Neeraj Vora’s health took a beating, and he subsequently, passed away. News about Hera Pheri 3 being in the planning stages surfaced again when Paresh Rawal and Priyadarshan were promoting a film last month.

While fans of the franchise have always been excited about another film in the series, in a recent interview, Nadiadwala made some startling revelations related to Hera Pheri. The producer claimed that Priyadarshan had left Hera Pheri incomplete, leading to a lot of stress. Bombay Times reached out to the producer and the director who shared their respective versions. Nadiadwala claims, “Priyan shot a three-hour 40 minutes long film. Usne copy hamare haath pakdadi, and he left. He was not there for the editing, background score, or for the final mix.”

Firoz says, “He was also not there for the dubbing, photo sessions, planning the publicity, or making the trailers. I sat for the edit with the late Neeraj Vora and the rest of the team. We cut down the film by one hour and 30 minutes. Today, when I look back, I am just thankful to Akshay Kumar, Paresh Rawal, Neeraj Vora, and Ahmed Khan (choreographer) because of whom we could complete the film.”

Reacting to Nadiadwala’s allegations, Priyadarshan says, “How could I make a film as long as three hours and 40 minutes? It is a remake of a Malayalam film, and so, I knew what I was making. All these claims are false. The whole film was made in Chennai. It was mixed in my theatre. I completed the film and I gave the final copy to him.”

Nadiadwala also claims that Priyadarshan had kept him in the dark about selling the Hindi remake rights to another filmmaker in Punjab. “Literally 10 days before the film’s release, we got to know that a filmmaker from Punjab had the rights to the film. I rushed to Chandigarh for the settlement. I had to pay him whatever he demanded. I have proof of all this,” says the producer.

Rubbishing these claims, Priyan says, “How can I sell the rights, when I never had them? It is the original writers of the Malayalam film (Siddique and Lal, also the directors of that film) who sold it. It was not written by me. It was written by Siddique, the one who directed Bodyguard starring Salman Khan. They sold the rights to someone else. Then, we started the film (Hera Pheri) and we were supposed to buy the rights from them for Rs 5 lakhs.”

According to Nadiadwala, Priyan also tried to convince the actors of the film to refrain from being a part of the film’s sequels. He elaborates saying, “When we were shooting for Phir Hera Pheri’s Aye Meri Zohrajabeen song at Filmistan, Priyan landed on the sets. He started making fun of me in front of the cast and crew. He started taunting me by saying, ‘Don’t listen to Firoz, he is going to spoil everybody’s reputation.’ The camera has captured him on the set. At the beginning of the song, one can notice him in the background. All these years, I kept quiet out of respect, but everything has a limit. I was fed up with his claims that he has turned down offers to direct the sequels. Even during his recent media interactions, he mentioned that. He gave me such a hard time during the making of the Hera Pheri, why would I approach him for a sequel?”

In his defense, Priyan adds, “Yes, he never approached me for the sequels. When Neeraj Vora was approached to direct Phir Hera Pheri, he was working with me for a film. He asked me if I wanted to direct the film. I said, no. He asked me if it was okay if he directed it, and I said that I have no problem at all. What do I do when the media asks me if I am directing the sequel of the film? I don’t know why this upsets Firoz. I have nothing against him. See, I personally didn’t want to direct Phir Hera Pheri. And this has been my answer to whoever asked me this question. Part 1 was the remake of a Malayalam film. I wasn’t sure where the story of the sequel will lead. So, I didn’t want to do it. In fact, when I had met Neeraj Vora, I frankly told him that he didn’t do a great job with Phir Hera Pheri. The film had become a brand and so it worked. He accepted it. He even told me that they had drawn inspiration from a few films and joined it all together because they didn’t know how to take the story forward. I shared a great rapport with Neeraj and after that film, too, Neeraj and I did 2-3 films together (Tezz, Khatta Meetha and Kamaal Dhamaal Malamaal).”

About Hera Pheri 3, Priyan says, “Suniel Shetty, who is like family to me, suggested that I should consider doing the film. So, we met Akshay Kumar, too, and I felt like giving it a nod. In fact, Firoz and I were supposed to meet as well, but that never happened. Then I heard that they had roped in Abhishek Bachchan and then finally, the film didn’t get made. I share a cordial relation with everyone, why will I ask anyone to not do the film? I continued to work with Akshay, Suniel, and Paresh on other projects. I have also met Firoz and we have had cordial talks before. I have nothing against anyone. During my latest film promotions when the media asked me if I was directing Hera Pheri 3, I said that I am not interested in directing it. I personally don’t believe I will be able to do justice to the sequel, so why will I even consider it? It is as simple as that! I don’t know what has irked Firoz. Maybe it is his anger and frustration at being unable to make Hera Pheri 3.”


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