Director Sharat Kataria is a happy man. His latest film, "Dum Laga Ke Haisha", his first for Yash Raj Films, has opened to rave reviews and is picking up with each passing day. In a quick conversation, we caught up with the director on why the film had a low key promotion, how confident he was on working with Ayushamann Khurrana and debutante Bhumi Pednekar, and more! Read on:
Firstly, congratulations on the success of "Dum Laga Ke Haisha". Were you expecting this kind of response?
I didn't expect this kind of response of from the film. I wanted to make what I had thought in my head. Expectations were zero.
Did you have any kind of pressure while making the film, since it is your first one for Yash Raj Films?
There was no pressure on me while making the film. In YRF the pressure is only to make the film in the budget. I am not an established director, hence no pressure.
The marketing of the film was a low key affair. Why?
Because we realized that we didn't have enough tools to promote the film. The film is promoted on brand value and face value. We didn't have any. The only thing that worked for us was the content of the story. Hence we decided to promote the film after the release of the movie. It was Aditya Chopra's decision to have low key promotions.
But are you happy with the promotional strategy?
Yes! The promotional strategy is working. The film is promoting itself.
Was Ayushmann Khurrana your first choice for the film?
Ayushmann Khurrana was my first choice for 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha'.
Bhumi was the only choice for DLKH. We auditioned lot of girls but she was the only one who could convince us with her acting skills.
The film is touted as a resurrection of sorts for Ayushmann Khurrana. What do you have to say about that?
I have not done resurrection of sorts for Ayushmann Khurrana. It has happened by chance that the previous one (Hawaizaada) didn't work. I didn't start the film that "Now I will re-launch Ayushmann's career"!
There are reports that because Ayushmann was going through a rough patch, the makers didn't invest in the marketing of the film. How true are they?
I don't think Maneesh Sharma (Producer) thinks like that. The reason for low key promotions is that this film doesn't star Salman Khan or Shah Rukh Khan in the lead. Ayushmann isn't as big as them. People are not going to watch Ayushmann's films the way they will watch SRK and Salman's films.
Were you confident of casting Ayushmann Khurrana?
On the first day of the shoot I thought, "Kahin Galti toh nahi ki isko leke". I told him that and he was really hurt. But the next day he pulled up his socks. I felt he wasn't getting into the character. It was the first day and I can't blame him for that. He is a very shy person and that was getting into his way. Bhumi too had a bad first day. But then later, they both impressed me.
How was it working with Bhumi Pednekar?
Bhumi is a very natural actor and she was in a company of very fine actors of our country. Hence it became easy for her to learn things. She was heavy but we asked her to be heavier for the film.
The first half of the film is almost flawless but the second half dips slightly. Was there any reason to drop the film's pace?
Yes that was done deliberately to make the film equally emotional as funny it has been. Otherwise there wouldn't have been any point in making the film. I know it did hamper the pace of the film but that was the need of the movie. We wanted all to take home the film.
What are your forthcoming projects?
I have signed a three film deal with Yash Raj Films. I have to write a script first. I would want to write my script and direct it.