After delivering a hit with your first film that starred the likes of Imran Khan and Kareena Kapoor, the obvious thing, it would seem, would be to get started on the next blockbuster. Shakun Batra, the director of this year’s rom-com hit Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, however, chose to buck that trend.
“From the day the movie released I’ve been nervous because everyone now has expectations from you. Everyone wants to know what you’re doing next and that makes you want to recharge and do something different.” And that ‘something different’ in his case was to train his lens on the short film format. “I decided to work on different formats,” he explains before elaborating more on his short film, Strangers In The Night, that was recently screened as part of the Chivas Studio 2012.
“The story is of two friends who share different ideologies of love and how their ideas change in a matter of one night when they meet two different strangers.”
Taking to the indie, less than 40-minute film format should be child’s play for someone with Shakun’s experience; a graduate from the Vancouver Film School, he’s worked as an assistant director for around six years on films including Rock On! and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Naa.
‘Anything but’ is Shakun’s candid admission. “It is kind of my first short film,” he says recalling, “When I was in film school, I was terrible... terrible with short films.” And so, making a short after so long, and successfully at that is, in Shakun’s words, “a kind of redemption.”
A quick glance at Shakun’s career graph will show that he’s one among the few lucky assistant directors who not only managed to make a film but make a film that had the backing of a heavyweight producer like Dharma Productions. “It’s not just in the film industry, you need that extra push of luck in any industry,” avers Shakun before he sagely states, “You’ve got to do the groundwork for that luck. Even someone like Zoya Akhtar, who comes from a strong film background took time to make it as a director so its not only outsiders who need that extra stroke of luck.”
That said, Shakun believes that film makers have never had a better time than now to crack it in the Hindi film industry. “Today, you have an Anurag Kashyap making a Gangs Of Wasseypur, an Anurag Basu making Barfi and Vishal Bharadwaj doing his stuff alongside commercial money spinners like Dabangg. We value talent today,” he affirms.
While we stay away from asking the obvious but essential question of ‘what next?’ Shakun quite casually reveals, “Working on the short film has recharged me and so I am planning to go on a two-month break to work on the next project.” A script that’s still a work-in-progress in his head, all that Shakun knows about his next movie is that, “it will be something different from Ek Main Aur Ekk Tuu.”
“Everyone I meet these days tells me that they have a script for a rom-com but I want to try something different. I want to experiment with all the different genres,” he says, wrapping the interview on a self-assured note.