"It's not an easy task being a serious man behind the camera after you've worked as a mad man in front of it", says Satish Kaushik when we meet him in his cozy little office cabin where he is seated with his mini Vaio. For a big man like Satish, everything he used looked miniature. We asked him, "Don't you think the laptop you're using is too small for you?" He answered, "I agree. My fingers are too big for these tiny buttons of my laptop. Let my two big films release and I'll buy myself a bigger one."
The humour does not stop here. Kaushik has this unrivalled gift for insightful comedy and a highly distinctive Indian sense of humour. We have never before seen Satish Kaushik with such an assured outlook on life, till we realize that he is on the verge of releasing his most ambitious project Teree Sang dealing with teenage pregnancy and his long lost film Milenge Milenge dealing with two estranged lovers who yearn to meet. Better known amongst his fans and media as 'Pappu Pager' and 'Calendar', his screen names have given him more popularity than his directorial films. Having said that, his Salman Khan starrer Tere Naam stood out as a musical classic.
"I leave everything to destiny. It is destiny which is going to decide the fate of my films", he comments, after asking him how his Shahid and Kareena starer will be received by the audiences. As talk of Milenge Milenge ends, the topic of Satish's involvement with a long-in-development film about Teree Sang comes up. "I'm now one of the producers. I did a lot of research on it, and thought about directing it." We met the versatile actor director at his Andheri office where he talks at length on his kidult story Teree Sang, Milenge Milenge which re-unites the ex-lovers, the issues dealing with teenage pregnancy, his fascination for Rajat Kapoor and his love to work in Mr. India 2.
You've got a funny little byline to your film Teree Sang - a kidult love story.
Today's kids are adults. That age group knows much more things about life and everything than we used to know when we were their age. India and its kids are growing fast. But the word 'kidult' is actually a word invented by the same person who invented 'adolescent'. I'm very happy that you noticed the byline first because at one time I wanted to title the film Kidult with a K rating.
Kya Kehna, a film almost similar to yours didn't work with the audiences. Do you think that the society will accept a film like this dealing with teenage pregnancy?
Why not? They will. This is my first film where I've researched a lot and the debate created in the film is mind blowing. I wrote Teree Sang in London while I was shooting Brick Lane. Long time ago I had seen some Telugu film which dealt with teenage pregnancy. The same thing is very much evident in the UK and the US. Then I saw one website called standupgirl.com. They've got so many different angles and stories which deals with such issues and many others. That's where I got my story from.
Which means that Teree Sang will be tackling issues?
Teree Sang is an issue based film. If there is a film with any issue and then you make a love story with it, it'll always work. Be it Ram Teri Ganga Meli, Bobby, Ek Duje Ke Liye, etc. Teree Sang is a modern day Bobby you can say but done on a very real scale. For the first time ever, a child will come to know that there is a law which prohibits them to have sex at such an adolescent age. And even the parents will come to know the same. The film is not preachy. I've made it from the viewpoints of kids and parents both.
And how did you manage to find your apt kidult girl?
That was a tough ask. To find a fifteen year old girl wasn't easy. I have gone real with the age. I finalized Sheena the kidult in fifteen days. One day she just walked into my office and I decided I had found the face I was looking for. She could fit the role of a girl with a small face carrying a baby.
You mentioned about the research bit. How was it then?
By research I mean that I took a path of academic interest. Teree Sang is more an academic film because I was feeling the characters so much that I brought my own values and atmosphere in Teree Sang. Just like Brick Lane was a learning process, Teree Sang is. I even took the same cameraman with whom I worked in Tere Naam, I took my old friends like Neena Gupta and Sushmita Mukherjee. Even Anupam Kher who is the co-producer of the film did a guest appearance. I landed up with a good researched team in the end.
You are all praise for Rajat Kapoor I heard.
You heard it right. He is a brilliant actor. My schedule started off with Rajat's scenes. The day I started shooting with him, I realized that he is such an intense actor. I was surprised how he did Bheja Fry. So I suggested all my other actors and co-actors that the whole look of Teree Sang should be like the look on Rajat's face. He is so real that you cannot make out whether Rajat is acting or isn't he.
After Tere Naam, is Teree Sang your most ambitious project?
Yes. I have a lot of expectations from the film because as said earlier that this is a film I've made from my heart and mind. It is a commercial cinema well researched and yet is a social film. Teree Sang is the most realistic film I've shot from all my previous films. The film is entirely shot in Delhi and Dalhousie. It is one of my best films because it caters to the youth from the age group of fourteen to twenty.
So how's Sheena in the film?
She has seen the film and because I come from NSD, I can confidently say that Sheena is going to go far. She is a very good actress. Her funda in life is - I want to become an actress and I will become one. That's the thing I liked about her. She has a lot of attitude and aggression and yet looks innocent and cute. She is going to carry the film all the way on her shoulders.
Milenge Milenge is coming at a point when Shahid and Kareena have called it quits.
Well, blame it on destiny. But as I tell my producer Boney Kapoor, this film is based on destiny and destiny is going to take care of Milenge Milenge. Not many people know that Milenge Milenge is the first film that Shahid and Kareena signed together. Actually, I was the first director to convince Kareena to work with Shahid. I called Kareena while she was filming for Bewafaa with Akshay Kumar.
Have you shot some of the scenes again with Shahid and Kareena?
No, I haven't. There was no need to. People keep on changing their look in each scene now instead of each film. Yes, both Shahid and Kareena are looking young in Milenge Milenge but you will not make out in the film when you see them. Whatever we've shot is final. After their successful Jab We Met, they are ready to meet again.
There isn't anything unusual about the film. I mean, it's just another romantic comedy.
Not really. Milenge Milenge has a very powerful story line. It's about lovers yearning for each other. Even if they have parted ways and are busy with their own individual lives, they both want to meet somehow. That's unusual, isn't it? The performances from both Shahid and Kareena are so powerful that the people who've seen the film are raving about it. Milenge Milenge is an emotional film in all aspects.
Is the word chart buster written all over the music of Milenge Milenge?
It certainly doesn't have a 'Mauja Hi Mauja'. I believe in emotional tunes a lot. For me, like in my previous film Tere Naam' I had 'Tumse Milna Baate Karna Bada Accha Lagta Hai' or the title track were great emotional songs. There are a couple of soft numbers in Milenge Milenge which are very aggressive too. The songs are very captivating and will touch your heart.
Do you think Shahid and Kareena will promote the film together now that they're no more together?
Well, that's a call which the producer Boney Kapoor has to take. I am sure that in all good faith they both will come together to promote the film if needed. At the moment I've got Teree Sang to take care of as that's going to release first in the theatres after the strike.
You've worked with Kareena at the start of her career in Mujhe Kuch Kehna Hai with Tusshar which you directed. What's Kareena like now?
We all know that Kareena has taken a leap now. A big one. She is a brilliant actress. Sometimes, you relate to an actor on emotional grounds. That's my relationship with her. Somehow, I and Kareena have stuck to that emotional connect. I was very touched by one of the recent interviews which Kareena gave to the print where she stated, "Whatever the reason, I have done Milenge Milenge for two favourite people of mine, Boney Kapoor and Satish Kaushik, who've stood by me from the beginning of my career. I totally stand by Milenge Milenge." I should say this that Kareena apne profession ki bhakti karti hain. She is the only Kapoor girl who has so much passion that today if Raj Kapoor saab was alive, he would've felt that the show is still going on. Kareena is completely a director's girl.
Your inputs on Shahid Kapoor please.
Shahid is touted to be the next super duper hero of Bollywood. He is into his own world of acting just like his father Pankaj Kapur. He is not a kind of person who will speak out like Kareena about how the film is. But he knows in his heart of heart that he has done a good film. Milenge Milenge will work out for Shahid.
Have you been approached by Shekhar Kapur for Mr. India 2?
I have no idea about the casting of Mr. India 2. So far, I'm not in. But I know for the fact that there is Calendar in the film because Shekhar told a few months back.
Would you love to enact the role of Calendar again?
Why not? Mr. India is a cult film. Not many people know this but I suggested the name Calendar to Javed Akhar in the first one because my father's old friend used to say Calendar as a takiakalam. He used to say, "Aree panditji kya hua. Chaar peti bheji calendar, lekin usme teen toh kharab nikli. Agar aise hi maal bhejte rahoge calendar toh phir kaise chalega?" Mr. India is my ancestral property and I'd love to be a part of it. After Pappu Pager, I am known by all as Calendar.