‘I come from a conflicted,soap opera-like family’https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/i-come-from-a-conflicted-soap-operalike-family/

‘I come from a conflicted,soap opera-like family’

The whole film is created on last-moment decisions and creativity — from the script to the manner in which we set up the shoot,the music and so on.

As Ayan Mukerji parks himself atop the table of his modest cabin in Dharma Productions,he tells us how he brings this restless energy to his cinema. The 29-year-old director also talks about his passion for food and travel and why Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is more complex than his debut film Wake Up Sid

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD) was in making for over two years?

The whole film is created on last-moment decisions and creativity — from the script to the manner in which we set up the shoot,the music and so on. Maybe it’s because it was a hard film for me.

What was hard about it?

It is on a much larger scale. Wake Up Sid (WUS) was chiefly set in a room. Also,this film is about many things. Sometimes,one has a feeling or instinct that one wants to capture,which can prove to be challenging. I have also been anxious that whatever I am trying to say should come together properly.

Was it different with WUS?

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Maybe I was this way with WUS too. But I was easily pleased then. Even if I put up a camera and shot beneath the office,I was so excited about my first film,it all felt beautiful. I am harder on myself now.

The film’s promos are reminiscent of Anjaani Anjaani and Love Aaj Kal?

I see that as well. Maybe they also look a bit like Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Dil Chahta Hai. These films are my closest influences at the moment. Of course,you will find individuality in YJHD when you watch it,but there will be parallels.

What aspects in YJHD have you have borrowed from your own life?

A filmmaker’s work must be personal. I have borrowed Ranbir Kapoor’s character Bunny’s love for trekking from my own personality. Trekking morphs into a notion of discovering new places and meeting new people. The world has so much to offer — it’s exhilarating,confusing and terrifying. This energy is prevalent in Ranbir’s character. Also the fact that the four characters are friends from the same school is an important thread. My own life has revolved around those I grew up with.

Are you trying to capture emotions as you go through them?

Yes,that is why I struggled so much with the writing. It is tough to make sense of emotions and go through them at the same time. But that also lends a unique energy to the film.

But why hurry with the emotions?

I come from a conflicted,soap opera-like family — my father is 72 and I am 29. It was my mother’s second marriage and I have two half sisters. I didn’t have dad’s money to fall back on,and was anxious from an early age to achieve something. I don’t feel bechara about myself but had to work hard. I started working as an assistant director at 18 and wrote WUS alongside. The decision to stop working and make my own film was the big turning point. I had no experience… I was trying to read,watch and observe. I would fail repeatedly. My friends were in stable jobs,I felt uncertain. I gave away my twenties entirely to make films. I have lost touch with friends and family and hardly do anything else. All the same,I have also got my due.

But I’m waiting for this film to get over. I want to spend time with my parents,make up on lost time — books,films,places to travel,food and alcohol. I am crazy about food. Becoming a filmmaker has thankfully given me enough money to eat a good meal at a restaurant of my choice.

Did you cast Deepika Padukone opposite Ranbir for the curiousity they will create?

They used to date and they don’t today — it’s nothing. This generation is cool. They are young,hormonal and work on close quarters. I have a feeling they will date,break-up and continue to work together.

Ranbir has been the strongest,silent pillar of support I have had throughout the making of YJHD. He is least demanding,and he stood by this film from day one,putting behind me whatever he has built over the years. With Deepika,it took some time but when that part wrote itself,I knew I wanted her.

How did the song Badtameez Dil come together?

The song situation required Ranbir to come back and create a great mood of energy. Pritam came up with trumpet as the main instrument and Amitabh Bhattacharya with the phrase. Karan had a very good instinct on it,more than me. We had planned it a certain way but one cannot predict the zeitgeist sometimes captured as the moment carries itself out.

You’ve got Madhuri Dixit-Nene for Ghagra with Ranbir. Was it a childhood fantasy?

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Childhood reverence. Madhuri and Ranbir make an exciting pair. Both are amazing dancers and magical actors from different generations. The song captures what Madhuri comes with and what Ranbir promises to be.