How did you come on board for Salman Khan’s upcoming co-production Notebook?
Salman sir (Khan) and I had been in conversations about doing a film together but things didn’t materialise. However, when he wanted to launch Zaheer (Iqbal), we reconnected and discussed various ideas. When Notebook came our way, I was very excited about doing it due to the unique story but was not sure if he would do it. To my surprise, he agreed.
Does Khan’s name add more pressure for you as a director or does it help? Did he provide you with any inputs?
It actually takes pressure off my shoulders. I came from a very indie space and it’s a relief when one does not have to worry about the release, leaving me to concentrate on making a good film. The banner has goodwill, which helps in promotion. He (Khan) knows the pulse of the audience.
Why was Kashmir chosen as the backdrop?
When I read the script, I always felt it had to be visual poetry. What better backdrop than Kashmir? Shooting was a wonderful experience and the warmth of the people of Kashmir kept us going in the cold. We majorly shot the film in and around Srinagar and some bits in Sonmarg and Yusmarg. I would love to shoot there again.
Tell us about choosing Pranutan Bahl and Zaheer Iqbal, two complete newcomers, for your project?
I have come to realise that it’s a lot of responsibility to work with newcomers. The two are hungry and passionate and have a bright future.
What makes you want to take on off-beat projects?
Comfortable zone is uncomfortable for me. Extraordinary stories excite me.
Tell us about your next film, Jawani Janeman, with Saif Ali Khan.
Pre-production has begun and we start shooting in June. I am looking forward to working with Saif and Aliya Furniturewala.