Baar Baar Dekho director Nitya Mehra decided to cast Sidharth Malhotra and Katrina Kaif after watching their films Hasee Toh Phasee and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. The debut director — who has been an assistant on movies like Life Of Pi, Don and Lakshya — thinks Baar Baar Dekho will be a ‘game changer’. Nitya, along with her lead actors, was in New Delhi to promote the film ahead of its release this Friday. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, she spoke about why she chose this script and how this love story is different from its genre.
“It is purely because of the challenge and also because this is the genre of filmmaking I always wanted to experiment. I absolutely love challenges. I mean how many love stories are there. It is such a universal kind of genre to make. So what is it that we’re going to do differently. We are a young. We want to push the boundaries. We want to tell new stories and we found a great script by which we could tick all those things. And it is a high concept, one of its kind. That’s so exciting,” she said while sipping some herbal tea.
Nitya has no Bollywood connection. Born in Amritsar she was writing plays. But a video course changed her life and she ended up directing a film. Ask her about her lead actors and she finds Sid ‘neutral’ and Kat ‘mysterious’. So is it true that Sidharth and Katrina didn’t get along too well on the sets initially? Nitya says, “The film has different stages and phases so I think they were just being really good actors because they were method acting their way through. So when there was a phase when they were not getting along too well, they were just in character”.
Baar Baar Dekho is a romantic drama which unfolds through flashbacks and flash-forwards. The trailer suggests that the movie has a unique storyline and its makers have rejected reports that it revolves around time travel. According to Nitya, the film is about real life, how sometimes we prioritise work over relationships or vice-versa, something that comes from her personal experience while her struggling days in Mumbai. We asked her if she got a chance to go back in time and do something that she couldn’t, what would she do. “I’ll go back and make sure I tell everyone who matters to me, how much I love them before they go away. And the film is also a little bit about that”, she said.
Baar Baar Dekho brings Sidharth and Katrina together on the big screen for the first time. Ever since the trailers were released, their chemistry has become the talk of the town. Nitya’s long associations with filmmaking and the process of doing her homework before arriving on the sets worked well for the film too. “There were actually character building workshops. So we would attack the scenes at that time. Because I didn’t know them. They didn’t know each other too well either. So their first exercise was that they both have to sit opposite each other and stare at each other for five minutes without saying a word. It breaks the ice as well”, Nitya said when asked how she prepared Sid-Kat for their roles.
“I always say Sid has this ‘thehrav’ as a personality which works beautifully for me. He’s got these wonderful eyes. With his kind of eyes, you can kind of feel bad for him, you want to hate him, it’s all of those things. Also, I feel he’s quite neutral so far because he is relatively new. So I feel neutral people are very good to be a director’s actor because you can take your character and you can just inject them with your character, because very rarely will he bring his personality to the forefront. He will kind of stick to Jai and I really like that about him”, Nitya spoke at length about Sidharth.
And why she signed Katrina? Well, she feels she was on the same page as Katrina, as we haven’t seen all facets of her acting so far. “Katrina has done so many films and with that body of work you feel you’ve probably seen everything, but no. I don’t know whether she related to the character or we had a good character and the merger of the two was really good. I don’t think she has played such a real character before. I think that was very exciting for me to kind of scratch the surface and say who’s Katrina behind all that. I enjoy that. That’s a challenge as a director”.
So is Nitya nervous about the release of Baar Baar Dekho this weekend? She feels she has made a good film and the audience today is smart enough to accept this kind of unusual subject. She has her fingers crossed!