Jehangir Surti talks about his directorial debut, Aa Dekhen Zara, thrillers and working with Neil & Bipasha
Absolutely and am looking forward to the release of the film on 27th March. For me it′s my first film so I am very excited about it and yet I am looking forward to it and the only reason is that it′s an original script and I have a feeling that now people are ready for original scripts and are tired of run of the mill stuff.
Agreed that you are all charged up but tell me honestly, if you are scared of the fate of the film at the box office.
No, not really. I am not scared because the script of the film is very strong and we had worked hard on it. Also being an original script the film has got no references so actually there is nothing with which you can compare it really. I am hoping that it works because my approach towards it has been really very simple. I have not complicated the film with any complex style of shooting or composition. I have narrated the film in a very realistic manner because it has supernatural elements, which needs to be believable.
As far as I know, ADZ is a thriller and is very fast paced with the length being just about two hours, so does it falls in the line of A Wednesday or Johnny Gaddar?
Absolutely, it falls in that category only though this film has many commercial aspects to it like songs that these films did not had. Also there is lot more action in it which was demanded by the script because it′s a race against time. So yes in a way you are right. In terms of style it does falls in that category.
You are considered as a very docile person, so how did you manage to tame your crew on the sets of the film?
Well, I know how to get things done sweetly. There are two types of filmmakers, one who are loud and aggressive kind and make people, freak out of fear and then there are people like me. I know lots of directors who are like me, who can sweetly put their point across and convince the actors to do it rather than force an actor to give a certain kind of reaction or performance and since I knew Neil and Bipasha personally the task became easier for me. The roles were author backed for them so there was not much work for me to do except guide them gently along the way. Bips is terrific and Neil is so hard working. It worked and I think it′s a nice approach, which is professional.
Did you think of any other actor besides Neil and Bipasha for the film?
No, absolutely nobody. The roles were author backed by them. Bips plays Simi Chatterji or well it could be her. It could be her story as well but of course she plays a DJ in the film and is a part of the music industry while Neil plays a role where is trying to get a break so it′s something which he could relate to because he is just one film old now. So together they fitted the bill perfectly. There was no question of thinking about anyone else and since the script of the film was so strong I was very confident. When I went to the producer to narrate the film, they immediately said yes to it. I mean there were no two thoughts about it, so it was sort of unbelievably smooth for me. Initially I had heard horror stories that you have to go to 50 actors before one says yes to your film. But in the end it reinforced the fact that if you have a good script then there will be no actor saying no to you irrespective of money or other consideration. If the script is good then actors automatically fall into place.
Being a debutante director, did you encounter any problem?
Not really because we stood on a very strong base of the script itself. We had a very strong concept in the first place, thanks to my two writers - Shantanu and Shreekar. If you have a strong base in the form of the script then things fall into place, it′s just a matter of executing it and having a big banner like Eros, there were no troubles of any kind. There were ups and downs for sure but they were mostly because of the weather while shooting the film. We shot the film right through the monsoon in Thailand and then in India. God was kind to us as we managed everything on schedule.
You have your roots in advertising, so was films the next natural progression?
Well the thought process was that yes I will move to films eventually but I actually got into writing before ADZ, I was busy writing a couple of other projects which will fructify next year. After shifting to films I realized that I have to start from scratch, advertising filmmaking is very different from feature filmmaking and both the processes are totally different so it was like a beginner starting again.
Which is your favourite thriller film?
My favourite thriller film would be The Asphalt Jungle. It′s a film by John Houston and it′s a heist film.
How about any desi thriller that you like a lot?
I won′t name a film but I am greatly inspired by late Vijay Anand and among the current lot I love Shriram Raghvans work. I think Ek Haseena Thi and Johnny Gaddar were the two best films made in the last five years. And of course I love Imtiaz Alis work as well, so these are the people I am kind of inspired by.
I need to ask this, the title of the film originally scheduled was Freeze, why was it changed to ADZ?
Freeze was a working title and rather than having a production number titled 64, I chose a working title which was called as Freeze and then with the consent of the producer we narrowed it to ADZ. Just a couple of weeks later after the film was titled, we thought about the lead song of the film. We bought the rights of the song. We did not wanted to fool around with a classic and we were very sure that if it did not sound good then we won′t go for the song but then Neil himself sang the song and gave it a twist which was fun. It was youthful and trendy and then we decided lets go with it.
Finally, what′s that one thing you got to learn after the film got over?
One thing, which I got to learn after the film got over, was actually the one liner of the film. Earlier it was just a one liner but it has become my motto in life - its choice and not chance that leads to your destiny. I am here because of what I have done and not just chance.
Thanks a lot.