Talk about the leap from the very personal Udaan to the epic Lootera?
In 2002,my co writer Bhavani Iyer and I had written a film titled Bombay Talkies. Amitabh Bachchan was supposed to act in it. Since I was a first-time filmmaker,we couldnt get the film off the ground. Thats when somebody suggested O Henrys short story The Last Leaf to us. Bhavani and I read it and decided to adapt it. It took us a while since we had to adapt the four-page story into 120 pages of a script. I was simultaneously working on the screenplay of Udaan and Lootera,its just that Udaan happened first.
What was it about The Last Leaf that resonated with you enough to make a feature film on it?
Its like a sweet tragedy,almost wistful. At the end of it,you dont feel weirdly sad rather you feel strangely uplifted.
How do you define the love between the protagonists Pakhi and Varun?
(Thinks hard) The love that Pakhi and Varun have is undefined. They are caught in a situation and circumstances are such that they react to it in their own way. Their love story is also their individual journey.
What kind of on-screen romances do you like to watch?
I like larger than life romances such as Pyaasa and Guide. I also love Maine Pyar Kiya,Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge but I love films where anger,ambition and human failures are also present.
The schedule of Lootera went haywire with Ranveers back injury and the snow situation. How did you deal with the delays?
I had my phases of being angry,annoyed and anxious,but over the years,Ive learnt that a directors job is to look for solutions before a problem arises. As a director,youve got to keep it together and make the best of the situation. Some days,you just have to say,Cool,lets get that bottle of Old Monk out and sit down together and figure out what to do.
The promos give a feel of Sanjay Leela Bhansalis imprint; what did you imbibe from him when you assisted him?
All that I know about the craft,I learnt it from Sanjay. When Udaan released,everyone said it had an Anurag Kashyap feel to it since it had an indie feel to it. Since Lootera is a period film with a classical feel,it might look more of a Sanjay Bhansali film. However,I also have my own voice. Ive kept Lootera very simple.
The credit line of Lootera has many heavyweights from Anurag Kashyap,Ekta Kapoor,Vikas Bahl,Madhu Mantena and,of course,you. So who is the boss of Lootera?
Im the boss of Lootera. Having said that,Im not a closed-minded director. I welcome criticism,provided it is constructive. I dont like opinions where people only tell you that its not good. The idea of Phantom and Balaji coming together for Lootera is so that different brains can collaborate and make better films.
Sonakshi Sinha hasnt owned a role till date. What made you sign her as Pakhi then?
When I saw her in Dabangg and couldnt take my eyes of her. Sonakshi is a natural and I couldnt see anyone other than her as Pakhi. For actresses,its all about choosing career-defining roles. Kareena Kapoor will always be remembered for Jab We Met even though she was also in 3 idiots. That said,Sonakshi has owned Lootera completely.