What kind of response has the trailer of ‘Tuesdays & Fridays’ fetched?
It is absolutely exhilarating to see people respond to something that we have put so much effort and time into. Mostly positive responses have been coming in and I thank God for that. I have been getting a good response for the look and feel of the film. Of late, there has been a lot of thrilling, edgy and dark stuff in cinema. So ‘Tuesdays & Fridays’ has been a welcome change for the audience. People have also asked me about the lead pair; I feel like a proud parent. I am hoping that people love the film as well and it lives up to expectations.
How did ‘Tuesdays & Fridays’ happen?
I wrote the script when I finished with my first movie, ‘Kartik Calling Kartik’. After that, I wrote one draft after the other till I was happy with it. When my last film, ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’, as an assistant director, released, I decided to stop being an assistant and just try to be a director full time. I started pitching my film around; people in the industry talk, you know. So, somebody from Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s production house, who had just joined as the CEO, read my script and called me for a meeting. I was very surprised because my film was not the kind of films that they make.
The meeting actually went really well though I was a little apprehensive. I told them that my film is not grand or historic; they told me they make other films too like ‘Mary Kom’, ‘Gabbar’, ‘Rowdy Rathore’ and so many others. Actually some of his films are so grand that maybe people forget about the other films that get made under the Bhansali banner. SLB sir thought the film was decent enough to put his name on it. That is how ‘Tuesdays and Fridays’ happened.
Why did you choose this to be your directorial debut?
It is not like I had a choice. I wrote this script so that it could be my first directorial. I knew that a script would have to be the key to getting my first film as a director. I always knew that I wanted to make a rom-com as I understand them and have grown-up watching them. Anybody who knows me would have been shocked if it was otherwise.
Anmol is the son of superstar Poonam Dhillon and Jhatalekha is a former Miss India International – Does that add to the pressure for you as a debut director?
It doesn’t because I don’t look at them as an actress’s son and a former Miss India International. They came to me through a talent management agency. I was meeting a lot of people back then and just looked at them as two new actors. I only wanted to see if I could mould them into my characters in the film or not. More than pressure, I was actually relieved because all three of us were new and had aspirations to prove ourselves. They were, in fact, very helpful in helping me being my vision to life and went out of the way in doing what was needed.
How did Anmol and Jhatalekha come on board?
We wanted to make the film with newcomers. So, we were meeting as many people as we could. Both Anmol and Jhatalekha came to us through the same talent management agency. They were one of the few people we finalised to meet. They were auditioned for the roles.
When I first saw Anmol walking into the office, I knew he was my character. He was tall and handsome but not at all intimidating. He has got this gentle, sweet energy to him. I needed that for the character of Varun, who is an author. He seemed approachable despite his personality and physical attributes. However, Anmol is really naughty. He can fool you with his eyes, which do most of the talking. I really liked that about him.
As far as Jhatalekha is concerned, I had seen an amazing audition of hers where she had enacted Alia Bhatt’s scene from ‘Highway’. I was very impressed by that. I immediately knew she was right for Sia. I think what really cinched the deal for her was when she told me that she was a trained Kathak dancer. She also sent me a video where she had danced to the ‘Aaja Nachle’ title track. She is what one needs in a Bollywood heroine. She has a certain old world charm which is very rare to come by these days.
How is it working with Sanjay Leela Bhansali?
It was absolutely interesting. As I mentioned, I never thought that he would ever produce such a film. I didn’t know what to expect, going in. But just let me be and never came to the sets. He only came once, on the fifth day of our shoot in London, for 15 minutes, since he happened to be there at the time. I thought he would have a lot of things to say but he simply wished us luck. I hope all first-time filmmakers get to experience something like this.
With the ongoing pandemic, people still seem to be skeptical to go to theatres, which have opened up. Do you think this is the right time for your film to release?
Ours is a small film with newcomers as actors. I understand that a lot of people are apprehensive about going to the theatres. Right now, the industry needs to put out fresh content regularly so that it helps theatres build confidence about how is a safe place. If our film can be one of those small films that get people to feel nice and comfortable, it will be a great contribution I feel.
Our film being a small budget film might not get the showcasing or screens that we can probably expect right now. All of these things end up helping everyone around. Whoever feels comfortable and wants to watch a nice, light, feel-good movie will like it. I hope they come out and watch the film.