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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A positive start

Although Youngistaan did not fare well at the box-office, debutant director Syed Ahmad Afzal is happy for the positive response.

Mumbai | Updated: April 16, 2014 5:43:03 pm
Syed Ahmad Afzal Syed Ahmad Afzal

By Siddhi Pathak

The first day collection of the film was Rs. 1.10 cr. Did the numbers live up to your expectations?

I was definitely expecting more. There were a lot of factors that were working around the release of the film— the T20 World Cup, the CBSE Board and Maharashtra Board exams. Besides, three films released simultaneously and the competition affected the collections. At the same time it was fun receiving the kind of appreciation that we did. Both Jackky (Bhagnani) and Neha’s (Sharma) performance have been appreciated. I am happy, but if the collections would’ve been slightly more, then I would’ve been happier. It did hurt us because we were expecting a better collection.

What are the responses that you received and are you happy with them?

The responses are completely in contrast with the collection. I’ve received random calls from remote places in the country like Meerut and Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh. People have messaged me on Facebook and tweeted about the film. They have all been raving about the performances, about how technically sound the film is and the storyline. I am extremely happy with the responses. Everyone had something positive to say about it. During the comic moments, I have seen people laughing and clapping in the theater. That’s kind of a victory because what you were trying to achieve is in front of you. It’s a great high.

With the external factors not working in your favour, do you feel you could’ve done something different to make it more successful?

Vashuji (Vashu Bhagnani) had provided everything that I needed. It’s finally a matter of luck and destiny. We have achieved what we wanted. I’m happy with the product. There will always be small things that you notice about the film, that we could’ve worked upon. As a film-maker you are never content with your product and you always want to better it. I’ve learnt quite a few lessons from this experience, that will definitely help me as a film-maker. It was a great opportunity to direct a film produced by Vashu sir.

Though its your first film, you were able to strike a balance between political drama and romantic comedy. Was it challenging to make a film with politics as a backdrop?

People including my close friends had told me that I had picked up a tough subject. We were saying a very complex thing in a simple manner. The audience understood exactly what we wanted to say. We’ve shown politics in a very subtle manner adding a dash of romance to it. The most difficult challenge was showing scenes in which politics and romance ran parallel with each other. Our aim was to make a love story, but just to add drama and conflict, we decided to use politics as the backdrop. We, however, did not want to sound preachy, so politics is used as a catalyst. There are undertones of politics in the first half, while in the second half, the political angle is accentuated. To hold the attention of the audience, we also incorporated some humourous moments. One has to be careful while handling a sensitive subject like politics. We have to put our view across without sounding controversial. You need to understand the ambiguities and nuances of politics to do justice to the subject. I don’t know about other film-makers but according to me, politics should be dealt in a very subtle and diplomatic manner.

Many films with a dominant or subtle hint of politics in the backdrop are being made. Do you think that this is the latest trend that has caught on with film-makers?

Using a political backdrop is just a take. For instance, my take in Youngistaan was that I wanted to add conflict in the love story. I don’t know about other films and film-makers, but I think if the story demands it, then you can have politics as the backdrop or make a completely political film. It depends on the script and whether as a director you are comfortable with it or not. Any element that is forced in the story is an uncomfortableadd-on for a film-maker.


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