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Abhishek Kapoor recaps his cinematic journey: ‘What your failure teaches you, your successes will never teach you’

Before the release of Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, Abhishek Kapoor talks about his cinematic journey which includes films like Rock On, Kai Po Che and Kedarnath.

Written by Sampada Sharma | New Delhi |
December 9, 2021 8:10:58 am
abhishek kapoorAbhishek Kapoor reflects back on his Bollywood journey.

When Rock On released in 2008, it marked an important milestone in the cinematic career of Farhan Akhar as the Dil Chahta Hai director made his acting debut with the film. Not just Farhan, the film also changed the fortune of its director Abhishek Kapoor. Abhishek, who started his career as an actor in the 90s and eventually directed a Sohail Khan film in the early 2000s, found a new lease of life with the musical and has not looked back since. In the following years, Abhishek has directed films like Kai Po Che, Fitoor, Kedarnath, and is now looking forward to the release of Ayushmann Khurrana and Vaani Kapoor starrer Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui.

Ahead of the release of Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, Abhishek spoke to indianexpress.com about his cinematic journey so far, what his failures have taught him and why music plays an important role in his films. Looking back at his filmography, it is fairly evident that no two films of the director are alike – if one is about a Hindi-Muslim love story set amid a natural calamity, the other is about the friendship between three boys amid rising political tensions. Abhishek explained that he does not like to repeat himself in his movies and believes that once he is done with a film, he “shuts the door” on the subject. “Other filmmakers might have a stamp wherein you know that this person makes his/her films in a certain way, but in my case, every time I find a new subject, I jump into it like an absolute newcomer,” he said.

rock on abhishek kapoor Rock On (2008) won the National Award for Best Hindi Film.

Abhishek Kapoor also opened up about the leap that he took after the musical success of Rock On, as his next project was set in a different space altogether. Based on Chetan Bhagat’s book The 3 Mistakes of My Life, Kai Po Che was set in a world that had nothing in common with the elite world of Rock On. “It was not the same world. Of course, it was about friendship, but it was a totally different setting, different texture.” Abhishek shared with every film that he works on, he wants to focus on the idea that is at the core of that story more than anything else. “That idea is the most important thing,” he added. Abhishek said that even with Fitoor (which was an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations) and then Kedarnath, he attempted to tell completely different stories. He said with confidence, “I personally feel that there is no similarity between the director who made Kai Po Che, Kedarnath or Rock On.”

Across the many films that he has made, not everything has been a resounding success and Abhishek acknowledges his journey’s ebbs and flows. “What your failure teaches you, your successes will never teach you,” he said recalling the time when Fitoor did not get as much love at the box office as he had expected. The director shared that the first weekend is the toughest but after the first Monday, the learning process begins. But despite the film medium being heavily reliant on box office figures, Abhishek does not believe in looking at the trends that are working at the box office while finalising the idea for his next project. “I don’t look at the box office, I don’t look at anything else other than my relationship with the idea,” he shared.

kai po che Late actor Sushant Singh Rajput (left) made his debut at the movies with Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che.

When asked how he finalises his ideas, Abhishek Kapoor explained that it is the human connection at the core of the idea that attracts him. “People are interested in people. The backdrop and everything else can be designed.” Abhishek said that after he has the core idea, he starts pursuing it to turn it into a story but makes sure that he “does not deviate from the core idea” at any stage.

Another essential part of his writing stage is the inclusion of music, which probably explains why the music albums of all his films have had some stand-out tracks, which is quite a rarity given the present-day music scene. The director said that when he is writing the film, he has a reference bank of tunes that he likes to juxtapose with his script. But when it comes to finalising the tunes, he does not subscribe to the notion of popularity. “I can’t buy into mainstream music video kind of (approach) ki yeh gaana chalta hai toh yeh gaana daal do (this kind of music works so let’s use this). I am not averse to having songs in my film but just to have mainstream chatpata songs that sound like the earlier song, which also sounds like another song, which again sounds like another song so that there is familiarity. I want people to come into an unfamiliar space with my film.” For Abhishek, the songs are another tool that aids in telling the film’s story in his unique style.

Abhishek Kapoor’s journey as a filmmaker is still underway and with Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, the director has ushered in a new chapter in his filmography. The film releases in theatres on December 10.

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