Tuesday, September 19, 2006
After writing Ram Gopal Varma's Company, he had a quite a few offers from big producers but he stuck to his guns and went onto write a project he believed in. Khosla Ka Ghosla was two years in the making but he didn't give up. Despite not being able to pay his telephone bills, he backed this project 100% and turned creative producer apart from being the story, screenplay, dialogue writer and the lyricist of the film as well.
Khosla Ka Ghosla took about 2 years to make. There was a lot of trouble in the middle as well. You being the writer believed in the project and turned creative producer. Tell us the whole story. I think independent films always have their own fate line, that's why they are independent. I fervently loved and believed in the idea, it was personal in many ways for me, as it was for Dibakar (director) and Savita (producer), and we had a great team. We had chosen to make the film we wanted to make, the way we wanted to make it, so we always knew it wouldn't exactly be a cakewalk.
It all started one day when my friend Savita told me she was going to start a film production house and she wanted me to be the creative head for at least her first project. She was clear she wanted to make films that were very entertaining but also very new. It was an opportunity to do something different and since you and me and all of us hate cynical the film formula, I said yes. Dibakar was the next to join and that made us a charged team raring to break some rules and do so successfully.
The reason I became the Creative Producer was that I was the only one in the team with actual feature film experience, so it made sense for me to take on more responsibility when we divided the labor. The idea was that I would chart the roadmap and run the process since I knew it-to free Dibakar to direct and Savita to handle production, finance and marketing, which are their specializations, so the film turns out great-and it worked pretty well. Also as a writer, taking on additional responsibility is sometimes better than cribbing when the film is not made your way. I hate to crib and complain as a writer and would rather do something about a situation rather than sit and moan.
The reason the film took more time to release than we anticipated was that the structuring of the financing altered a few times along the way, for extraneous reasons like some corporate realignments, etc., which we really couldn't do anything about, but independent films always have a funny journey.
A writer taking on some additional responsibility is sometimes better than cribbing when the film is not made your way.
Was the casting of Boman Irani and Anupam Kher your idea?
Boman was my idea. Much before the first Munnabhai released, I had seen Boman's fantastic performance in Let's talk, and a scene where he scares the daylights out of his wife's character by just twiddling a spoon on the dining table convinced me that only this man's talent would inject flesh and blood in the land mafia Khurana's character I had written.
In fact the funny thing is that when I told Dibakar about him and he went to meet Boman, for some weird reason they both didn't really take to each other so well. I forced another meeting between the two, but with the same result. So I picked up the phone and spoke to Boman two nights in a row and talked about the character and why we felt only he could play the part as we saw it, and he got excited about it. Then our team went and met some land shark characters in Delhi and recorded our conversations with them and sent them to Boman for him to get an idea of these guys who he had never met in Bombay. He kept listening to the recordings for days in his car, and the day he landed up on the set, he had completely transformed himself into the devious devil Khurana was written as-that is his power as an actor. And now to imagine both these guys who were so suspicious of each other in the beginning ended up doing such great work together on the set and are greatest of friends now always cracks me up.
Anupam Kher was somebody who Dibakar, Savita and myself were great fans of for years and unanimously wanted from day for Khosla, and it was just a great day when we went to narrate him the script. He believed in what we wanted to make, and said yes with only one condition that we would make the film exactly as we narrated it - and I think we haven't let him down. It's at times like these that you realize that without established talents like him choosing to believe in new teams, our films would never move a step ahead.
At times you realize that without established talents like Anupam Kher choosing to believe in new teams, our films would never move a step ahead.
Tell us a little about this nest.
A strangely hypnotizing event had happened in my family many years back when I was little. On the eve of my cousin sister's wedding, my uncle and aunt learnt that somebody very evil had taken over a plot they had invested their life's earnings in, and had built a wall around it. For some time after that we went through a very surreal period of trying to approach the usual pillars of law and order in our democracy, the cops, the lawyers, the politicians, and as a family realized how the real world worked. At that time I was very little and couldn't do much about the way that story went, but in this film, I wrote my own version of I would've liked the story to go-which is emotional, touching and very funny. What we can't do in life, we do in movies.
What we can't do in life, we do in movies. But the great thing was that it wasn't the story that just I wanted to tell.
Savita really wanted Tandav Film's first film to be a real, emotional, funny middle class film which showed the world as it is but gave a lot of hope and happiness, because that's how she is.
Dibakar knew the middle-class world very well having grown up in it and he was very passionate about portraying it on the screen. So we all just magically ended up being on the same wavelength.
Then we had this big stroke of luck in finding fantastic actors one after another who passionately believed in what we were trying to do-Anupam Kher, Boman, Parveen, Tara, Ranvir, Vinay, Navin Nischol, Kiran Joneja, Vinod Nagpal, and so many others-each of whom brought their own reality and experiences to the way they played their parts-because at one point of time, they were all middle class and wanted to celebrate it-and we ended up with a nest that will remind you of your own family, neighbors, colleagues and friends in a very real, emotional yet funny way.
So if you think you have a problem with your family, neighbors or friends, this is the film to see-you'll come out feeling like having a big laugh and hugging them. And if you feel some tears in your eyes on the way, never mind, you'll still be smiling.
How was Dibakar Banerjee as a debutant director?
When my friend Savita came to first and said she was starting a feature film production house and wanted me to be the creative head of the first movie, one of the earliest things I did was to introduce her to Dibakar to bring him on board. He knew Delhi and the world we wanted to create better than anybody here in Bombay and I knew it would be a big strength for the film. He had made many ad films but not a feature film, but I knew he was a film buff, I had worked with him many years in advertising and I always felt he would make a great film one day. And he proved our faith more than right by getting the performances he has got from a team of extremely talented actors, just whose presence may have intimidated any other first time director.
Did he crack under pressure since his film was delayed so much?
Not really. He worried like the rest of us, but like I said before, when you choose to do what you want, and the way you want it, the journey is going to be funny. He knew it, I knew it, Savita knew it, and we were okay with it.
How did UTV take over the project?
UTV saw the film's rough print and they loved it, they had a meeting amongst themselves and decided they believed in the film as much as we did, and offered to come on board as co-presenters, distributors and marketers, and we said yes. It's a rare thing in the entertainment business to find partners who bring strengths to the table that you may not have, yet believe in an idea as much as you do, and we were very happy to find them.
From RGV to Yash Chopra, you have worked with the most diverse people in Bollywood. Tell us how has the experience been so far?
I came to the film business purely as a tourist, and stayed on. That's largely because I kept meeting people who believed in me, taught me more about the craft, shared their knowledge with me, made me a part of their world and became a part of my world. As subjects, scripts and films, Company, Bunty Aur Babli, Khosla Ka Ghosla and now our new sports film, have been very far apart from each other, and that has always given me the most pleasure, satisfaction, pride and enjoyment as a screenwriter. It's been pretty much the same for my lyrics, so it's been really great.