You have made small and unconventional films like Quick Gun Murugan. How did a mainstream movie like Khoobsurat come about?
Before Khoobsurat, Swati Shetty, who used to be in Disney, had called Rhea and me to do a film together. We worked on the project for six months, but it didn’t take off. During that time, I really enjoyed working with Rhea and we understood each others working process. Six months down the line she called me and asked me if I would do Khoobsurat. I had asked her why she thought of asking me to helm the film, but I agreed. In fact, the film is her vision and I just followed it.
People are calling the film a breezy entertainer. Are you content with the response you have got?
I really don’t know the numbers, as I don’t follow that kind of thing. But the team told me that the film has done well. It is the first time that I have made a mainstream cinema and my expectations were completely centred around my producers, and to my surprise they are very happy with the film.
People also have been telling me that they really enjoyed the movie and loved Fawad Khan. There’s a certain section that is very surprised and happy with Sonam’s (Kapoor) performance. Some people love the Kirron Kher angle, and said she worked very well in the film. Others adored Ratna Pathak Shah’s character. Aamir Raza Husain who has acted in a film after 25 years said he had put himself in my hands. In fact, many people asked me where I had found him. So it was quite flattering to have different people give their views about different characters in the film.
I worked very closely with Rhea (producer) while prepping for the film and it has come together very well.
In the original Khoobsurat, the hero’s family was large, with more characters which made for some interesting interactions. Why did you decide to do away with that?
Nobody has told me that I should have added more to the film. Before people saw the film, they were curious what I had retained and what I had not, but when they saw it, they liked it and very few have compared it to the old Khoobsurat. In fact, Siddharth Roy Kapur asked why were we even calling it Khoobsurat as it was a different film, something that I took as a compliment. But I did think the reason to call it Khoobsurat was that we have stuck to the central idea, the values the film spoke about. Also, it was my choice to add the romantic angle which was missing in the original. I thought it would be more relevant today and make it more challenging and interesting. So did the fact that Sonam was an employee and not a relative like Rekha’s character was in the original. I think we conceived it in an interesting way which took off from Khoobsurat without having to copy it.
Fawad Khan’s character is quite conventional, very respectful, etc. but did someone tell you that Sonam’s extrovert nature as Milli Chakravarty could have been a little more contained?
See, I find some grounding for each character, and I have met many youngsters who are flippant and frivolous, but they have substance, which no one notices. I wanted to do something like ‘don’t judge a book by the cover’ kind of thing for Sonam’s character. I wanted her emotional quotient to be very high, like even when she is told to get out of the house, she doesn’t, because she is obsessed with finishing what she came for and she actually achieves it. If you pay attention, her character makes a lot of sense. In real life too, Sonam is like that. Even her calling her mother (Kher) by her first name Manju was taken from a friend, something that I found very sweet.
Which is your favourite scene from the film?
I have seen Khoobsurat several times and frankly, I like so many scenes. But the kidnap scene has quite a graph and I was quite happy with the way that played out. It starts as a comedy, goes into drunkenness then into romance.