"There are only three to four permutations and combinations in any love story"
You don't need to go out of the box or bizarre when you make a love story. Love Aaj Kal was a nicely told story and nothing was bizarre about its love story. The strength of the love stories in today's time comes from the strength of the character you portray. There are only three to four permutations and combinations in any love story. You can't really deviate too much from that central track. For me, Abhay and Aliya are the strength of the film and not the story. If I tell you a one line of the film, it may not sound very interesting because it's a boy meets girl, he breaks up and gets her back.
"I wanted to cast Shahana because she has only done these serious and depressing roles"
There are three to four secondary roles that are important in this film. There is Sharmila Tagore, Lilette Dubey and Navin Nischol, who are playing the older generation. But my personal favourites are Yudi and Shahana Goswami. They play a brother-sister duo who live in Australia and with whom; Abhay and Aliya start to live with. Yudi is mental and I don't understand why that man hasn't worked in any Hindi film before this. He has done a role that is super energetic. I wanted to cast Shahana because she has only done these serious and depressing roles in films like Rock On, Firaaq, etc. In this, she owns a beach shack. She has got tattoos, dread locks, etc which makes her look bright.
"It's funny but the first narration I had with Imran, he said No"
I haven't seen Imran in Luck but I loved him in Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na. Imran's first film was a beautifully told love story. Even in I Hate Luv Storys, he worked and how. Everything worked in the film because of Imran. He was just right. It's funny but the first narration I had with Imran, he said 'No'. He liked the story and at that point in time, the story wasn't set in Australia. So he replied in negative. That was also the time when he was starting I Hate Luv Storys. Renuka and I rewrote the second half of the film. Funny, but I was almost in look out for other actors till we met at a common friends place for a party. We just started talking and by the end of the night, we discovered that we had seven hundred and eight things common with each other. The next day, I texted him and asked whether he would read the second half again after the changes. He called back and said that he was doing it because it was one of the best scripts he had read that year.
"Imran and I are like the lost brothers of some sort who got separated somewhere"
There was a running joke on the sets between my wife Shruti and Imran's fiancee Avantika that they both thought they were in love with these unique men and then they discovered the clone. According to them, Imran and I are like the lost brothers of some sort who got separated somewhere. It's spooky but even our mother's share the same name. We both are technology geeks. We both are Apple product fans. We both like the same kind of movies. I've also been told that our sense of humour is equally dry because we were the only ones who'd laugh on the jokes we cracked.
"It never came to a point that Kunal was utilising his veto powers"
Kunal had read the first half of the story and I went away with Renuka for the next two months to write the second half. Kunal didn't know what we were writing and after that we came to him with the story. Once he agreed, we started sitting with Kunal everyday writing the screenplay and dialogues. Initially, I was a little apprehensive that there would be some creative interference from his side but it didn't happen. We would fight everyday over little things in the script. It never came to a point that he was utilising his veto powers. I kept expecting it and Kunal would just sit quietly and gauge. But all the suggestions that came from him helped us write better.
"We actually took about five to six months only to write the story and then we wrote the screenplay"
From the first time I started writing, then met Renuka and finished writing, it took us a year and a half to finish the script. I really didn't think there was a lack of story in this film. At a certain point, Renuka was my bounce board and my check. I literally had to fight with her to move on to the next section. But she would be unbending and firm in saying that until the scene before will not get properly locked, she would not move further. We complimented each other well. I was looking for writers and Vijay Krishna Acharya recommended her to me. I met her at a coffee shop and within two and a half seconds, I discovered that she was completely mad. That was exactly the kind of person I wanted to work with. I'd met many writers who were dedicated to write for me, but she was mental. We actually took about five to six months only to write the story and then we wrote the screenplay. By that time, we had such a solid story structure, the rest of it came every easily.
It's pretty strange but what would you write about a debutant director whose film has just released? But the answers which seem blocked as of now come to life when you meet the director in flesh. Danish Aslam comes across as a man who knows his game and how to play it.. He got a writer on board, he got a producer to make his debut titled Break Ke Baad. UK's Harrow Observer columnist brings you the second and the last part of an exclusive interview with the definitive Danish Aslam.