Saturday, June 28, 2008

‘Jaane Tu… is definitely autobiographical’

As he gears up for the release of his debut film as a director Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na, Abbas Tyrewalla sits down for a free wheeling chat with us. Not known to mince his words, we ask Abbas about Jaane Tu, working with a producer like Aamir and whether Pappu Can’t Dance is really a dig at Salman Khan!

What was the inspiration behind the film?

I wrote this film quite a while back… this happened right after Main Hoon Na and Maqbool. There was a time when I just couldn’t find any interesting director to work with. And that’s when I decided to write Jaane Tu… and then sometime in 2005 I realized that I wasn’t as happy and interested in writing as I was earlier. That’s when I felt I needed a new ambition, a new direction and so I decided to take up direction. And at that time the only script that I had on hand which was most viewer and producer friendly was Jaane Tu…and so I decided to direct this film.

How difficult is it to change roles from script writer to director?

In life I have never thought and said I won’t be able to do something. When I take on something I have no doubt that I will be able to handle it. But sure my friends who are directors like Vishal Bhardwaj and RGV told me that you think direction is about creativity. But direction is about people – their emotions, their feelings and to manage all that while motivating them to work better for you. So while writing is 100% creativity direction is 100% people management. So for years as a script writer I used to work independently all alone. I wasn’t dependent on anyone but now I was in a job where if 100-150 people didn’t do their job then I wouldn’t have been able to do my job. So the big challenge for me was to learn to rely on people again… to learn to motivate and inspire them to do their job better so that my work turned out better. And I think that was a major shift for me.

Speaking about Jaane Tu… it’s your first film, you have a newcomer in it and you have an Aamir Khan backing it. So if there any pressure on you?

The pressure would have been there had Aamir Khan been a producer who had come to me saying that I want to launch my nephew and you write a film for him. And if I was making the film to make him happy then there would have been pressure. But that was not the case… the film’s original producer was Jhamu Sugandh and when we cast Imran it was because he fit the role and not because Aamir was my producer. In fact by the time Aamir got involved and became the film’s producer by that time I was accustomed to my role of director. Also Aamir never threw his weight around or said that my nephew is here so pay more attention to him. All he said was make the film based on what you have written or what you see the characters in your mind like.

You’ve scripted films in different genres… from Maqbool to Main Hoon Na. Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am someone who pays a lot of attention on life… I enjoy analyzing and studying people and circumstances. And the other thing is that I am also very fond of stories… so I love making khyaali pulao. I also love reading stories and watching films and all that helps. I don’t travel too much or really research my stories as such. I try and give life to different characters based totally on my thinking.

Not only as his director but as someone who has interacted with the best in the industry how would you describe Imran to us?

Imran has this quality in him that woh abhi tak filmi nahee hua hai…He is very normal… like any guy his age would be. He is naughty yet hard working. So I feel if he doesn’t lose this innocence about him once he becomes a part of this industry then I believe I will be giving a very big gift in the form of Imran. I think he is a great actor and great person.

What do you as the director expect from this film? What would you say is its USP?

I won’t say that don’t go with any expectations because if you don’t have any expectations then you won’t go to see the film. So I want them to go with this expectation that they are going for a good film… for a fun time. I have one suggestion that when you go to see the film go with your friends because I have seen that the more the number of people who see this film together the more they enjoy. So I won’t say don’t keep expectations from my film – please have them because I have spent 3 years trying to fulfill your expectations. And I think when you give the audiences a little more than what they expect it only helps!

A R Rahman’s music for the film has received good response. How was it collaborating with him? Did you leave it up to him entirely?

No not at all… you can’t work like that. No matter how superior or famous your music director is… I mean A R Rahman is world famous but all that is to one side and your story is on the other side. Only you know what you want to convey through it… so therefore it wasn’t like I left everything to Rahman to do everything just because he is world famous. I knew… I hoped that he would do a good job but it was all done with my inputs because the story, the characters, its people and their thoughts are all written by me. So who knows this better than me? Therefore my inputs were definitely there because I wrote the script… I even wrote the lyrics so my inputs were there every step of the way. And ultimately it wasn’t that I had to make Rahman happy …. Ultimately Rahman gave me that much izzat because it was my film. His behaviour towards me was always that he had to make me happy.

Recently there was gossip about your song Pappu Can’t Dance being a dig at Salman Khan….

When we wrote this song Aamir Khan wasn’t even anywhere close. I wrote this song with Rahman in Chennai and so for them to say that Aamir said write a song that makes fun of Salman Khan is totally out of our imagination. Aamir is a professional… so am I. and if we are making a film with so much money and enthusiasm and passion I don’t think we are doing it so that we can make fun of Aamir’s friends. There is no way that we can make fun of Salman bhai in this song which says Pappu Can’t Dance when all of us know that Salman is one of the best dancers of our industry. So how can we say something like this and how can people believe it? This is just a fun song and the kids are just singing this song on their graduation party… that’s all there is to it.

The film is based on kids in college… so does it find inspiration from your college days?

When you will see this film you will know exactly what my college days were like! This is absolutely inspired from my life and my friends at that time. Each and every character does in some way find its inspiration from some memory of a friend or a relationship. And that’s in this film. For the first time there are some shades of an autobiography in this film… till date all my films have been fictional… the character of Jay in this film is a lot like me – sure I don’t sing for a girl! But things like not being a fan of violence or being quite naughty or being friend with his mother… these are all things that I find stem from me. And similarly every friend of his in this film also finds inspiration from my friends in my life…and I think that’s why whoever has seen this film till now have always found that connect with people in their lives. They always say that some or the other character reminds them of someone in their life…and I think that’s the special part of Jaane Tu…


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