Did you assist any director before you made your debut with Chaurahe?
I confess that till date I haven"t assisted any Indian director. I had been an assistant to Charles Herman-Wurmfeld, who, besides being my mentor, had directed Legally Blonde 2. Jonathan was an independent director, who had also made the film Kissing Jessica Stein.
In what way is filmmaking different in India?
Filmmaking, per se, is the same whether in India or abroad. What I feel is lacking here is the will to respect the director. In filmmaking, it is the director"s vision that counts. If you have faith in your director, you should believe 100 % in him or her. All said and done, filmmaking is a collaborative work and actors should stand by the director to churn out a good final product.
Did Anil Kapoor interfere with the making of your film as the producer?
I dealt more with Mr Kapoor"s daughter Rhea than Mr Kapoor while making Aisha. I did interact once in a while with Mr Kapoor, who was absolutely non-interfering as a producer. I shot for the film for almost 67 days and Mr Kapoor did not at all crib as the producer.
How did you think of making Aisha?
I wrote the idea of Aisha which is based on the novel Emma and asked Devika to write it. It took me almost four and a half years to launch Aisha. In fact, we took the basic character from the novel and adapted it to suit contemporary India today. To tell you the truth, I was trying to pitch it around by visiting various film production offices till I ultimately managed to get a producer, who had faith in me to launch the film.
Why did you choose to adapt Emma?
Though my earlier film Chaurahe had nothing to do with women per se, Aisha, as the film"s title suggests, is a film about a woman who is trying to be a match-maker, for her friends, who are single. It is a grey story. I had read Emma.
How autobiographical is your film?
I am single, but my film is not at all autobiographical. There are certain biographical situations, since almost every single girl faces them whether it is in India or for that matter abroad. I am of the opinion that every director has to have a strong belief in his project and bring something of him or her to the product that he or she churns out.
Aisha is about a girl. In fact, it is about the journey of a girl and about her coming of age. Yet it is not at all a girly-girly film in the real sense of the term. The film has all the elements of fun. In fact, I"d even gone to the extent of stating that a lot of young boys will also be able to relate to the film because they have met girls like Aisha. It is a kind of a universal film which transcends all languages.
It must have been quite a tough task for you to zero in on Abhay Deol for Aisha!
It was quite difficult to get the right boy for the character of Arjun in Aisha. I felt that Abhay is one actor who is quite confident and professional to the core.
How commercial is Aisha when compared to Chaurahe?
The fact that films are being differentiated as art house and mainstream film is what pulls the Indian filmmakers apart. It is only the Friday when a film is released that decides whether the film is good or bad. I feel that a film which flops at the box office is an art film and a film that clicks is a mainstream film. The fact that a film like Tere Bin Laden has clicked at the box office proves that the Indian audiences are now changing. I had made Chaurahe too with the same passion and feeling with which I set out to make Aisha. As far as I am concerned, frankly Aisha also is as commercial as Chaurahe was. I confess that I do not have the sensibility to make pot boilers. I just cannot see myself making an out and out commercial mainstream film, say like De Dhana Dhan or for that matter Do Knot Disturb, though I just love watching them as a viewer.
I am writing a period piece set in the 60s with the backdrop of various cities in India. Basically, I like to make gypsy kind of films. Chaurahe was also based on different cities of India. I will start looking for stars as well as new faces, once my script is ready, not otherwise. I feel that content has to be the most important aspect of any film. If the content is good, the rest will fall in place. Though Chaurahe was not linear in structure, Aisha is, because the subject demanded it. As a filmmaker, I am willing to experiment because there are various ways of telling a story.