Both his directorials — Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja and Prem — had sunk commercially and while his work was being appreciated, the score card read 2-0. But ever the optimist, Satish Kaushik confidently stated that he would now pull off a hattrick of hits and started the search for his next subject. It came through Anil Kapoor.
Anil was signed by D Rama Naidu for the remake of the 1996 Telugu hit, Pavitra Bandham, and strongly recommended his friend and the director of Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja. And though Rama Naidu, and his son Suresh Babu, the film’s executive producer, were keen on a South Indian director, they eventually accepted Anil’s suggestion. “But reeling after two flops, I didn’t want to gamble with a remake. I had been shown the Telugu original and hadn’t understood a word,” confides the director.
When Rama Naidu heard this, he invited Satish to Hyderabad, screened the film at their private theatre and sitting beside him explained it, step by step. “I loved it and at one point, broke down. When I told Anil this, he wondered if I had cried because I had been moved by the subject or because I was getting another opportunity to direct a film,” he guffaws.
Satish wanted a fresh pairing and went to meet Kajol with Rama Naidu. She saw him from afar and, laughing, screamed, “Pappu Pager.” Noticing the bemused expression on his producer’s face, Satish explained that it was the name of his character in Deewana Mastana, which had just been released. He went on to narrate the script to Kajol. She wasn’t impressed. “Satishji, this is too melodramatic,” she pointed out. To her surprise, he accepted that she had got the sur right, but explained that coming from a theatre background he understood that if emotions, no matter how exaggerated, come from the heart, they do strike a chord. This time she surprised him by agreeing to do the film, admitting later that she had been won over by his confidence in the subject. “If you had demurred, agreed to change things, I would not have accepted it,” she confided later.
The story revolved around a couple (Vijay and Megha) who had got into a contractual marriage having agreed that if he did not fall in love with her in the course of a year, the marriage would be annulled and she would walk away with a big alimony. They grow close, but at the end of 12 months, Vijay [Anil Kapoor] still ends the marriage, only to realise subsequently that he cares for Megha [Kajol]. But now she refuses to accept him back even after learning that she is pregnant with his child. Vijay won’t give up and sets about trying to woo her back.
“For me, it was a love story of a husband and wife and I thought Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain was an apt title. But Rama Naidu sir was set on Pavitra Bandhan, reasoning that it spoke eloquently about the sanctity of marriage while my title was too long-winded and he didn’t understand it. So, then, I set about explaining it to him, word by word… I live in your heart. And like he had won me over with his translation, I won him over with mine,” shares Satish.
Having got his way, he now wanted to record and shoot a title song. This time Rama Naidu refused to budge. “The film is complete, no further shoots. This is not a Boney Kapoor film,” he was told. But Satish was not to be deterred. “Anu Malik and I quietly recorded a song, which I took with me when I went to visit Rama Naidu sir next. He was shocked! ‘How much did you spend?’ he wanted to know immediately. I assured him it wasn’t much and told him we would need to shoot only for a day in Hyderabad. He finally agreed. The film was a superhit!” he beams.
Satish believes it worked because coming from a simple middle-class background like Megha — her home was not just similar to his Karol Bagh residence, but there was actually a girl like her in his locality who had gambled her future on a pre-nuptial contract — he could empathise with her and the subject. “I am a simple guy and this film belonged to me. Hum Aapke Dil Mein Rehte Hain came straight from the heart. It was released in 1999 and was the first of my three promised hits. A year later, Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hai followed, then, Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai in 2001, and now the scoreboard read 3-2,” he concludes triumphantly.