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Most of us remember Danish Aslam as the man who gave us the refreshing Break Ke Baad starring Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone.
For all those who wonder about his long hiatus from calling it shots on films post that rom-com, Aslam says, 'making the second one is the real challenge'. While, the filmmaker had 'three' unsuccessful attempts when it came to film direction, he has made some path-breaking content on the world of web.
After the impressive Swara Bhaskar starrer web-series, 'It's Not That Simple', Danish is back with a bang with yet another fresh take on love and relationships in his upcoming 'Time-Out'.
Excerpts from our exclusive interview-
'It's Always Exciting To Cast People Against Type'
Q. How did the idea for your web-series 'Time-Out' germinate?
A. You try and write what you know, right? I'm married and we just had a kid a couple of years or so back. So this was the world that I think that was the most relevant & immediate for me. My wife claims that this is my way of dealing with issues that I have in a safe environment where she doesn't have to deal with them or beat me up in response. I deny this in public & stay wisely quiet in private.
Q. Why is it titled 'Time-Out'? Any specific reasons?
A. Not really. It seems self-explanatory, no? And it's better than YOLO, which was the working title.
Q. Tahir Raj Bhasin has always been synonymous with playing negative characters when it comes to films. Here, you have got him playing a regular guy who is dealing with every-day issues. Was it your conscious choice to cast him in a role that's quite an antithesis of his filmy avatar?
A. Honestly, it's always exciting to cast people against type. It gives them something to look forward to when they come to set and it gives me something to play with - and more enthusiastic actors! Having said that, in this case, it was simply a case of the person who can looked like he had the range to play this. He was the first person we approached for this role - and I know this is a cliche, but it's true because he was also the only character for whom we didn't consider any options.
4. How did Sarah Jane Dias come into the picture?
A. The only movie of Sarah's I'd seen was ‘Angry Indian Goddesses', which I quite liked her in. In the case of Radha's character, there were a couple of people who we considered for the the role and then tested. And it so happened that Sarah actually got to test with Tahir and once I saw them in the room together, it just clicked.
'I Would Rather Be In A Honest, Non-Socially Sanctioned Relationship Than Live A Lie'
Q. Time- Out explores with the complexities of an urban couple. Do you believe with changing times, the definition of love and the institution of marriage has also changed?
A. Absolutely. And we keep saying that this is true only in urban India, but I think it's more pervasive pan-nationally than we know. Just like how we think affairs and infidelity are urban phenomenons restricted to people influenced by cable TV & the ‘West' - which is utter rubbish.
Similarly, I think the concept of marriage as this infallible institution is a crumbling edifice. People are getting married - and getting out of marriages - at increasingly varied times. It's not so sacrosanct anymore, which is great. Because I would rather be in a honest, non-socially-sanctioned relationship than live a lie because it's what you're supposed to do.
'It's Easier To Get In And Out Of Relationships In Today's Times'
Q. Have relationships too become easily fragile in fast-paced lives?
A. Perhaps. Many things have, including our spines, given the increasing lines at the physiotherapist every time I go there! So I suppose relationships are another casualty too. Like I said, it's easier to get in and out of them now, and the casual Tinder-friendliness of it all is very much a reality. But I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing.
'I Was A Little Hesitant Of Having A Child'
Q. In real life, did you ever find yourself in a situation where you had to hit the pause button in life?
A. Not yet. Although I was a little hesitant about having a child. But now, 3 years later, I don't regret it at all. Except when I have to get up early to drop her to school.
'Love Story Is A Genre That's Very Easy To Classify As 'Done' Or 'Cliched'
Q. You seem to be having a knack for love stories. At the same time, you have always steered clear from the typical cliched romance. Be it your directorial debut 'Break Ke Baad' or your last web series Romil and Jugal which broke the norm and told a same-gender love story. What are the major challenges before you every time you narrate a tale that's not a vanilla romance?
A. To clarify, I didn't direct the web series Romil & Juggal. I was supposed to make a movie of that script with Balaji and I worked on that for over a year. But that got shelved a month or so into prep and then they went ahead and made it into a web series later.
Now for Part 2: I think the answer's in the question. The love story is a genre that's very easy to classify as "done" or "cliched" and yet there are just as many permutations possible as there are people on this planet. Literally. So the trick is to make the story you're telling both different enough to engage and audience and yet relatable enough to be able to empathize with the characters.
Q. Break Ke Baad happened in 2010. Though the film failed to work its charm at the box office, the refreshing concept did manage to draw the audience's attention. Any plans of directing a film for the big screen soon?
A. Always. Unfortunately, the myth in film-making is that making the first movie is the difficult part. I can speak from personal experience (& from that of some of my peers who've had to wait years) that making the second one is the real challenge! I almost made 3 over the last few years (first with UTV & second one with Balaji) but they all fell apart at the last possible moment. I've just signed another one - let's hope this one works out....
'Films Will Always Be More Of My Comfort Zone'
Q. You have dabbled with all three mediums- films, TV (you helmed an episode for a show called Love By Chance) and then web-series. Which is more of your comfort zone?
A. I did more than one episode for Love By Chance . I also helped to write & directed a show called Siyasat for Epic and some other stuff for Disney, Bindaas, etc. And it's thanks to working in TV that I was available to shoot the web series in the timelines I did. So, taking that forward, I think film will always be the most comfortable, mainly because of the pace of things - you get more time to breathe and take decisions and just think.
Q. Finally, what's next in the pipeline?
A. Apart from the movie (since everybody in the Bandra-Andheri stretch ALWAYS has a movie they're working on), I'm gearing up for Season 2 of ‘It's Not That Simple' with Swara and Voot, which we should be shooting in a month or so. And I am also talking to ALT Balaji for a series with them, derived from the 2nd movie I was supposed to do with them. That one's my story as well.