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Neeraj speak of his 2nd directorial venture

Courtesy: IndiaFM

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Just recently we got Neeraj Vora to speak to us on Phir Hera Pheri. That's his second directorial venture after Khiladi 420. But much before turning a director, Neeraj was a well-known writer in Bollywood. He's responsible for the funny liners and Hindi humor in most of Priyadarshan's comedies. Here he clears the writer's block.

How important is writing in the making of the movie?
Writing is the foundation of the movie. If the writing is not good, the film will fall even before it is made. When the writer is also the director, execution of the film becomes easy. Direction is 99% hardship and 1% intelligence. It's a tough job. What's already been written has to be executed.

Recently writer-director Sanjay Chhel made a statement that there are 200 promos of the latest films on TV. Yet, the writer's name does not figure anywhere. Do you think that writers haven't got their due credit?
I don't think so. Giving or not giving importance to a writer solely depends on an individual producer. For instance, if someone picks up a foreign DVD and puts it on paper, where is the writer? But for a film like Lagaan, you need to put the writer's credit. Even in Swades, the writer has contributed tremendously. I would say that in such films, he is as important as the director. There is nothing wrong with being inspired. But after being inspired, there should be some really good, original work. You should demand for your name only when you are worth it. I don't want to start a movement, carrying a jhanda for writers! I would say that everyone is working hard. Even the cameraman and sound guys work hard. The issue arises when you have done excellent work and not been given credit for it. Here, dialogue writing is considered to be a special skill. The story tells you what it is whereas the screenplay tells you how it is.

You are known for your funny lines, time and again. What is it that inspires you to come up with such lines?
My inspiration has been my father, a classical musician. While growing up, we were not allowed to watch movies or hear film songs. My mother was very fond of movies. So we would not tell our father and quietly watch movies. My younger brother is a musician who has worked on the music of my next film Familywala starring Arjun Rampal and Dia Mirza. He also did the music for Malamaal Weekly. My father had a great sense of humor. He has a sharp and funny wit. So you can say that I have inherited his sense of humor. Throughout my school, I used to imitate him. Once you start doing that, it becomes your second nature. That is what started reflecting in my scripts. So all the credit for my funny lines goes to my father, Vinayak Vora.

Which was the first script that you wrote?
It was called Kharidar starring Sarika and Shekhar Suman. It was her last film. Then I wrote Pehla Nasha directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. I also did music under the name of Neeraj-Uttank. But I just got work for writing scripts thereafter. Then I got Baazi followed by Rangeela. I got so involved with Rangeela that I gave my wife's house as the location for Urmila's house. It was thanks to Aamir Khan that I got Rangeela. I had gone on the sets of Rangeela for a narration when Ram Gopal Varma told me to act. And I even bagged a small role in the film. Then Priyadarshan offered me Virasat. From then on, I got films like Mann and Daud! But my real passion lies in writing and directing. Cinema is my passion. I don't even mind dying as a production-boy. I want to be in this arena.

How is it that we haven't seen you on screen as an actor, of late?
I don't get time to act. Acting is also very time consuming. But I do try and act. I have acted in my next film Familywala.

Your character in Daud was extremely funny. But the film didn't do well. Why do you think it didn't work?
I wasn't the writer of Daud. That can be one reason why it didn't work! Secondly, I acted in the film! That could also be a reason why it didn't work. Thirdly, I think the movie was made way ahead of its time. Ram Gopal Varma is very fond of me as a performer and writer. He was actually trying to launch me in Daud. Though Daud didn't do well, he called me for Satya, which was the best performance in my career. It was the smallest but the most correct performance given by me. As a writer-director team, RGV and I have only worked in Rangeela. Except for RGV, I haven't worked with anyone else as an actor. Whenever he calls me to act, I always go, because I like the way he treats his actors.

Has he approached you for writing of late?
He wanted me to write the film he was making with Shah Rukh Khan. But I really don't have time. Nothing can be done half-heartedly.

Would you like to work with him again?
Of course, I would love to.

What are your other projects as a director?
I am planning three movies. There is a romantic comedy, a saga kind of film and also an adult comedy. I will also be producing them. Negotiations are on. I am in the process of finalizing the scripts.

What are your future projects as a writer?
One is Bhagam Bhag with Priyadarshan. Chup Chup Ke will release along with Phir Hera Pheri. Then I am also writing a film for Abbas-Mustan. There is also Rohit Shetty's Golmaal.

What do you enjoy writing more? Comedy or thrillers?
Thrillers. In fact, I would like to go for anything that is good and entertaining.

Your top 3 favorite Hindi films
Sholay, Mughal-E-Azam and Lagaan

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