Vikas Bahl won over our hearts when he co-directed 'Chillar Party' way back in 2011. His next film made Kangana Ranaut the 'Queen' of Bollywood, swept off most of the awards that year including two National Awards and created hungama at the box-office. Now the ace director is back in action with yet another refreshing tale and this time it has a destination wedding as a backdrop.
As 'Shaandaar' hits the theatrical screens this week, the director in a candid chat reveals what his new film is all about, how he conceived the idea and much more. Excerpts from the conversation-
Who is really 'Shaandaar' in this film?
I hope the film itself is 'Shaandaar' and not only one thing in it. But I think as a whole, the fun of the film whether it's the 'Gulaabo' song...I just wanted to make a fun film so I hope people will have fun while watching it. That's the only agenda.
With the kind of films that you have made, how much have you changed as a director post 'Queen' in terms of your craft and how you function?
Not really. I think that the best thing that can happen to anyone making movies is that hopefully can hold on to the innocence because the more you start thinking that you have become smarter and now you know this and that, then you start collapsing. So I hope the innocence stays. The only good thing is that now I can ask foolish questions on the sets without worrying about it. (laughs) Because I land up asking the most ridiculous questions. I have never been an AD nor a production person physically. So I end up asking questions which are so stupid at times.
How did you come up with the idea for making 'Shaandaar'? What about the casting part?
Actually it was a very simple thought. One day I was sitting with Shahid (Kapoor) and I said that let's just do a movie with lots of songs and dance and like a wedding atmosphere like you know how 'Hum Aapke Hai Koun' was. Just have a film like that and it will be a modern take on it. You know how weddings today are? People do a lot of different things. They come up with themes, go to a destination, they will do sky-diving at a wedding. So I was like let's do something like that, which is a today's day take on a mad Indian wedding. And Shahid instantly loved it. He said that if you write it then let's just do it together. And I thought that he was just right. Then I wrote it for about 10 days. As I started writing, the whole idea of making it a bit like a fairy tale came up. You know how wedding in some sense is always a fairy tale. So taking it into a world which is a little imaginative, little exaggerated in places, characters a little exaggerated. So then with the whole idea of a fairy tale setting, I thought that now I need a really cute girl and then who else but Alia. Then I told Karan and he introduced me to Alia. She liked the script. Because I couldn't imagine anyone else but her. I guess when you will see the film, you will realize this. So it was a very simple, innocent process of figuring out how to make this film. I hope everyone will enjoy and have a smile on their face. It's supposed to be just a happy film. It's not too melodramatic nor it takes issues seriously. It doesn't take any problem in a big way.
What kind of difficulties did you face while shooting this film?
For every director I think, in every film, the budget is always less. So I was in short of money. We shot in the cold but passed it off as summers. So that was a mess. If I was Alia or Shahid I would have left the shoot. Because one day they had to jump into the water which was almost -3 degrees and it was ice-cold. I just put one of my fingers in the water and I was like okay (laughs), So it was really cold. We travelled a lot. Like for the film, the castle is shot in 7 castles. You exit one room and enter other which is another castle. So it's a very difficult film to put together, Also it's got a lot of VFX and animation which is new and I have never done that before. So I have also just learnt as I made this film.
Do you believe in 100 crore club?
This is not cricket. If I was a cricketer then I would have definitely believed in it (laughs). Right now 'Talvar' is doing so well at the box office and it's not a 100 crore film. I believe that a film should do good business. But every film has his own good business.
Does the director and the producer in you sometimes have a conflict?
I think that every director should have a producer in him. Because finally every director's movie should do well. So to say that I am just a director and I don't care about the budget.. to me the only person to whom this liberty should be given is the writer. Because that's the stage where you are conceiving, where you should try everything. But the director has to be responsible. So I think to me it comes naturally. But I think every director should have a producer in him, It will only help him to make a better film.
What do you think was the main reason behind the success of 'Queen'?
I think it's the way Kangana was being handled, I think most of us go through that phase in our life whether it is in relationship, education, work or school. This story could have been of a boy who all his life wanted to do engineering but didn't clear his engineering exams. Now what does he do in life? So actually it was a tragic story but just because it was told in a funny way and looked at it as a third person, is why I think people connected with the film. So it was more the tone of the film that worked.
How did you bring Pankaj Kapur on board for the film?
We had roped in Shahid for the film. Pankaj Sir read the script and after three weeks that he takes normally to get back, reverted and said yes. I was very excited to pitch them against each other.
'Shaandaar' even marks the debut of Sanah Kapoor? So how did she come into the picture?
She just went for an audition and after we selected her we got to know that she is Shahid's sister. So it was just amazing.
Alia is like a daughter to Karan Johar. So did you pamper her on the sets?
Alia doesn't need pampering. Instead she pampers everyone else. She is like the production head. The whole unit loves her. I think the girls were giving special attention to Shahid. And he wasn't married at that time.(laughs)
How did you come up with the idea of insomnia for the film?
After I discussed the film's idea with Shahid, I was in Goa, writing. There I used to see my BB status all the time. You know you get up in the morning and you see 15 peoples' status- 'Didn't get sleep, 'Whose awake' and stuff like that. And I was like oh, this is the best time to have an affair. So coming across the BB statuses, I thought that it would be lovely to have a story of two such people and that's how the whole idea struck.
Any particular genre you would like to experiment?
No, I don't think like that. There's a story that you want to tell and then you tell that story. I don't think one can approach and say let me make a story in this genre. Because then you will start cheating. But ya..a thriller kind of a thing.. I don't know if I am capable or not. Anurag (Kashyap) does it so well.
Can you tell us more about your upcoming films?
I will go back to my producer avatar for few months. Because there is Vikram's (Vikramaditya Motwane) film being made, Anurag will start making his film. Abhishek Cjhaubey's 'Udta Punjab' is coming up. So I love marketing the films which I can't direct. But after this I will take a break and do a nice short film.
What's your take on remakes? Do you think they should be made?
Yaa..I mean if you can do a good job of it. The problem with remakes is that usually you go and remake your best film and then you screw it up. But otherwise there is no problem. Any story from anywhere, if legally acquired can be told again and again. There is no harm in that.
Lastly, will we see you ever doing a remake?
Only if I could do a good job with it. Because the chances are that I will do the same mistake. I will pick up my favourite film and screw it up.