Have you finished shooting your short film?
Yes, I’ve just completed it. Its part of a larger feature film that would have short films by three other directors Zoya Akhtar, Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap. It’s been a great experience shooting with Nawazuddin Siddiqui. It was almost like shooting the core of a film.
A feature-film on the concept level has 6-7 key scenes. Martin Scorsese said, ‘When I think of a film I always think of those 6-7 key scenes’. For example in Raging Bull the key scene is Robert de Niro beating his head against the wall. So those key scenes become the core of your film.
Your short film will be part of the larger scheme of films called Bombay Talkies?
All the 4 films are stand-alone products. But they will be released together. A bit like Paris Je T’Aime. But the unifying theme would be cinema in Bombay Talkies. But we aren’t making documentaries. We are celebrating cinema.
What’s it like to work with Nawazuddin?
Fantastic. He is evolved into one of the best actors we have. Nawaz plays a normal everyday man who nurses a fascination for the world of cinema. He’s a dreamer like all of us. But everyone’s dream differs.
What’s your short film called?
The overall compendium is called Bombay Talkies. The individual stories don’t have titles.
You’ve been lately in the news of for your 3-film deal with Yash Raj Films. How did you and Aditya Chopra come together?
Frankly, we turned out to be quite similar in our goals. We both like making films. If I didn’t make films I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Aditya Chopra and I share the sheer passion for filmmaking, all kinds of filmmaking. We both simply enjoy the process of filmmaking. I’ll be directing two films for Yash Raj while a third film would be directed by Kanu Behl who wrote Love Sex Aur Dhokha.
But your next two directorial films are for Yash Raj?
They’d be Yash Raj-Dibakar Banerjee co-productions.
Not at all. It would be entirely what I’d like to make. When I met Aditya Chopra he made it very clear that he was only interested in the kind of cinema that I made. The whole idea of bringing me into Yash Raj is so I can bring my sensibility into the production house.
Which of your films has Aditya Chopra liked?
Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Love Sex Aur Dhokha. I am told he sees all the movies as part of the public audience. We had a long discussion on the climax of Shanghai. Aditya really liked Abhay Deol’s performance in Shanghai.
The awards have eluded your latest film Shanghai?
I’ve never thought about it. But Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Love Sex Aur Dhokha got many awards. Shanghai got 8 Filmfare nominations this year. That’s an honour. But the biggest award is that I am able to make the films that I want. Who would’ve thought that I’d be able to survive in this film industry with the kind of cinema that I make? My biggest award is that I’m at the right place at the right time. How many filmmakers are lucky enough to say that? I’ve a consistent audience that is growing. That gives me the confidence to go on. Ten years from now that audience would’ve travelled that distance with me. It’s comforting thought. I want to live long enough to make the films that I want to.
Will an element of surprise continue to underscore your cinema?
Trying to say something new and finding new answers to the question of life is what I find most enriching in my work.
A short film then two back-to-back feature films for Yash Raj. Does that look like a lot of work to you?
Oh, it looks like a lot of play to me.
I hope to see you make an intense love story?
But first, I’ve to grow up for it. It isn’t easy talking about love at 40 in cinema. Most love stories are about the 18-25 age bracket. To do a true love story you’ve to know the man-woman relationship. It takes a lifetime to know what oneself. Then it takes another lifetime to know a woman.