When I was 18, I told a friend in college that I wanted to direct a film. Nobody from my family was from the film industry and I didn’t know how I would achieve that dream. Then I acted in Ab Tumhare Hawale, and met Bhushan Kumar. We got married and later I did a course in cinematography and editing. After that I directed music videos for Agam Nigam, Jermaine Jackson, Tulsi Kumar etc, and even helmed a few ad films. After directing 20 music videos I decided to direct a film. I partnered with Sanjeev Dutta, the writer of films like Metro and Page 3 and scripted Yaariyan. However, I drafted four scripts before Bhushan approved it.
Wanted fresh faces
Casting was the toughest part. If there are only two or three characters in a film, it’s comparatively easier but I had 20 characters in the age group of 21-22. I did not find any actors from the existing lot, in this age group, who could fit into my characters. So, I cast fresh faces. Also, though my vision was big, I had a limited budget. Now that the trailers are out, people are saying it looks refreshing and I am glad.
When I started directing the film, my son was only one- year-old. Direction is one of the toughest jobs. However, I managed to look after my infant son and direct a film, which was the biggest challenge.
Not riding piggyback on Bhushan
Bhushan has been very encouraging but I didn’t want to piggyback on his shoulders. As I said, Bhushan rejected three scripts before he approved the fourth one. After all, he has to keep up the reputation of his father and the banner. He may not be technically great but creatively he is very strong. When I used to direct videos I would follow his suggestions to the ‘T’.
Labour of love
It took five years for the film to materialise. That’s because I got pregnant, had my child and was busy with other things. However, I shot the film within a year. My pre-production was strong and during workshops I used to shoot when the actors were rehearsing. The film was literally ready on the laptop. So, when I actually started shooting the film it was easy. I shot the film in Sikkim, Lachin near the China border, Darjeeling and Kerala.
The film is a tribute to the youth, as I think it’s the best period in one’s life. It is about the youths’ dreams, excitement, ecstasy, romance, etc, and yet it has a soul and depth. The story is from the male perspective where the guy cannot figure out who is the best girl for him. As a filmmaker and being a woman, I am sensitive and emotional, which has come across in the film.
After Aashiqui 2, the music of which was a big hit, we wanted our next home production Yaariyan, to be the album of 2014. Four music directors Honey Singh, Pritam, Mithoon and Acro have composed. The songs, I hope, will be chartbusters.
Back to acting?
I am not looking at acting again, though I don’t mind doing a cameo in my film. I want to be a versatile filmmaker and challenge myself with different genres. In terms of visuals, I am inspired by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Karan Johar and Subhash Ghai.