Hera Pheri (2000) was a cult Bollywood comedy that had audiences in splits when it was released. But, two decades later, producer Firoz A Nadiadwala says that his producer-father A G Nadiadwala and he had a lot of fun making the Priyadarshan-directed film. Priyadarshan recently stated that he has declined the chance to direct Phir Hera Pheri (2006).
Nadiadwala claims he is now obligated to unlock Pandora’s box as a result of the director’s continuous barbs that the Akshay Kumar, Suniel Shetty, and Paresh Rawal-starrer does not deserve a sequel.
He said, “I kept mum all these years out of respect for Priyan, and because the film became a blockbuster. But he has left no opportunity to run down my father and me. How can he talk about turning down our offer to direct the second and upcoming third part, when he did not even complete the first film?”
Nadiadwala also reveals that the iconic characters of the film including Raju, Ghanshyam, and Baburao were not a result of Priyadarshan’s vision. “He gave me a film with a runtime of three hours and 40 minutes. His version was full of depressing scenes; a lot of the humorous dialogues were deleted. He was absent during the background music recording, and dubbing.”
Nadiadwala states that after Priyadarshan’s “disappearance,” he worked on the film with the cast, late writer-director Neeraj Vora, and choreographer Ahmed Khan to finish it. The film was edited down to a tight 130-minute duration, and two new songs — Jab Bhi Koi Haseena and Tun Tunak Tun — were added during the editing process.
Nadiadwala claims that Priyadarshan’s version was not a comedy, but rather the narrative of an economically disadvantaged family, which may come as a surprise to fans. Vora, he says, is responsible for the film’s turnaround. “He added a lot of punchlines. We deleted the sad scenes. We did a lot of improvisations during the dubbing and editing to make it what the audience knows it by today.”
The issues didn’t stop there. After Nadiadwala announced the film’s release date, a Punjabi director claimed to own the Hindi remake rights to Ramji Rao Speaking (1989), the Malayalam film on which Hera Pheri was based. “At no point had Priyadarshan told us that he had sold the rights to another filmmaker.” To settle the situation, the producer had to fly to Chandigarh.
Noorie Nadiadwala, Nadiadwala’s sister, later hosted a screening of the film in Chennai for Priyadarshan and his family. “He did not tell her how he abandoned the project midway. This was the first time he watched the final cut, which was completely different from what he had [given]. The film, which the audiences saw, was the director’s cut in the sense that the director was cut from the final version,” he says sarcastically. He also added that Priyadarshan tried to “convince the actors to say no” to the sequel.