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I will not be making a typical masala film, says ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ director Sharat Katariya

A Jamia Milia Islamia alumnus, Sharat Katariya 'dedicates' his success to Rajat Kapoor, his first employer and the lead actor of his first directorial venture.

Written by Sonal Gera , Edited by Sarika Sharma | New Delhi |
Updated: March 8, 2015 3:32:57 pm
dum laga ke haisha, sharat katariya Sharat Katariya, as I talk to him, is all humility personified.

A Jamia Milia Islamia alumnus, he ‘dedicates’ his success to Rajat Kapoor, his first employer and the lead actor of his first directorial venture ’10ml Love’. Sharat Katariya, as I talk to him, is all humility personified.

Ask him how he developed the idea of his latest release ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’, pat comes the reply, “I was just thinking of writing something on a dysfunctional movie. And then I stumbled upon a calendar of unusual sports and one of them was a wife carrying competition. And it struck me, what if the wife is on a heavier side and guy is lean. So I started writing the script; I never thought it’d be such a success.”

Also read – Ayushmann Khurrana ‘surprised’ dad with ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’

But apparently he made the movie for his wife and it’s a coincidence that it got a commercial success. Isn’t that what he said in an interview?

“Yeah. She actually forced me to write the script. I was writing ’10ml Love’ and she used to tell me ‘why don’t you write something on that.’ And then she’d say we won’t go to the vacation, if I don’t write, for we were slated to go for a vacation. I didn’t want to waste the money I had spent on the tickets, so I started writing.

I wrote the first draft in 17 days and second draft in 3 days. I don’t know how it happened, because normally filmmakers take a lot of time for readying the script. This just happened,” Sharat quips.

Hmmm! Sometimes you don’t need huge planning to achieve things; genius just happens.

So, the ‘genius’ behind the movie must be feeling on the top of the world right now. Wouldn’t he? He denies, however.

He says, “I am feeling normal, trust me. I am just feeling reassured and comforted that people are going and watching and liking it. Because that’s the intention with which you make the movie. First you please yourself and then step two is – ‘Okay now I am happy with it; then you can only hope that people should go watch it and like it. It, in a way, reaffirms your own belief system.”

Read – Maneesh Sharma was confident about ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’: Director

And apparently, he derives the belief system from his alma-mater Jamia Milia Islamia in New Delhi.

“When you don’t know anything about films as such, the best way to arouse interest is going to a film school, you know, to learn the nuances about filmmaking. I think Jamia did that. We used to make shorts and kind of short features. Doing such kind of work opens up your mind towards cinema, and in my case Jamia did that. Because before that, I had not seen any documentary or anything. So yeah, Jamia opened up my mind to a great deal.”

But he was raw then. Sharat Katariya owes his evolution as a filmmaker to Rajat Kapoor, who he assisted in movies like ‘Bheja Fry’ and ‘Bheja Fry 2’.

“I became a writer because of Rajat Kapoor. I totally dedicate…mmm, what should I say? Let’s put it like this – his contribution in my life has been great. You know when I joined him, he wasn’t making any films. He was working on his scripts. So my job used to write for him, because he used to hand-write and I used to type his scripts into the computer. But then we started interacting and somehow, I don’t know why he would ask me to write. He’d say ‘you are working at a writer’s desk. You should give it a shot.’ So yeah, in a very vague way, I started writing. And then I used to see him write. He is one of the finest writers of the country. I used to wonder why such great ideas don’t come to me. So I tried to push myself harder.

Also in those times, DVDs were there, and that too quite expensive. So I would borrow DVDs from him; he’d suggest which movies to watch. So yeah, I grew as a filmmaker and a lot of the credit goes to Rajat Kapoor,” says he.

Read – The Hindi film heroine is changing: Bhumi Pednekar

So, did Sharat know from the start that Rajat Kapoor is going to be the lead in his debut directorial?

Sharat affirms: “Yeah, it was very clear. He read the script and said, ‘I like it and I am doing it.’ And you know what, he and Habib Faisal asked me to write the dialogues as well.”

Coming back to the ‘Queen’ of 2014. Well, does he know ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ is being compared with 2013’s ‘Queen’? Because there are some definite similarities.

But Mr Katariya seems ignorant of the trade lingo. “I have not seen ‘Queen’. I don’t know; it’s something trade people do. I am sure they must have compared ‘Queen’ also with some other movie,” he says.

So, how was it working with Ayushmann Khurrana? It’s being said he has reinvented himself in the movie.

Sharat had earlier said in another interview that Ayushmann is one of the most underrated actors in the country, which he insists even now and says, “He is actually a very underrated actor, because the kind of performance he has given in the movie is really something. And I realised this during the editing of the movie. When you are directing a movie, you see performances only for the first layer of it, that yeah, he is doing fine. But I realised during the edit, it is a very layered performance; so precise. The body language, everything. And his take on subtle humour is something everybody can’t achieve.”

Read – Weight has never been an issue for me: ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’ actress Bhumi Pednekar

Comic timing is actually difficult, something which Ayushmann has definitely mastered, I say.

“More than comic timing, I think it is the sensitivity to portray the character. Nobody is acting to make you laugh. You have to feel the character, the comedy and timing comes naturally then,” Sharat counters.

A word on the lead actress Bhumi Pednekar? She is hogging all the limelight it seems.

“Not at all. I am getting as much appreciation as Bhumi is getting. I think if your actors are getting praises, it means the director is also being praised. A movie is a team work. When the movie is being praised, everybody is being admired.”

So what do you think worked for her?

“The best thing about her was that she had not acted before. So what she brings to that table is being natural. There are certain actors who have a certain way with words or characters, but she didn’t have. She just honestly lived each and every moment; the way it’ll come to her. That’s worked for her and the movie. And also there was no baggage.

And one more thing, which I found, like a happy surprise, was that she can mug up lines man. She can mug up pages and pages.

There’s a long scene in the movie, where everybody was forgetting lines and fumbling. She didn’t. And it’s tough Hindi, not the everyday Hindi.”

IN PICS – Ayushmann Khurrana, Bhumi Pednekar’s Holi celebration

True. She is, indeed, the newest sensation around.

But will we be lucky enough to see a ‘sensation’ from Sharat Katariya’s armoury? Like a masala movie? Because most of the movies he has worked for are off-beat and not the archetypal Hindi cinema.

“No, not at all. The ideas I am working on are all on the same lines. Yes, given a choice, I love to watch the masala kind of movies, but I can’t make them”

And that’s pretty ironical.

“It’s a matter of taste. I like something that I can’t do. I am sure making these kind of masala movies also requires huge resources and talent. I really admire those kind of movies.”

Further, when I ask him about his almost-masala venture – Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Fan’ – as he is the co-dialogue writer of the movie, he refuses to divulge much details about it, limiting the conversation to ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’.

And when I end the conversation thanking him for the interview, he expresses his disappointment that I haven’t watched the movie yet. So I promise him to watch it as soon as possible, and in return he promises me to write a script and direct soon. So yeah, while we wait for yet another Sharat Katariya venture, I book my tickets.

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