Writer Raaj Shaandilyaa will soon be making his directorial debut with Ayushamann Khurrana’s Dream Girl. While Raaj began his career with a television show Comedy Circus, he went on to write comedy films like Welcome Back and Freaky Ali. He also wrote Sanjay Dutt and Aditi Rao Hydari starrer revenge drama Bhoomi. Now while he is busy with the post-production of his directorial debut, he got into a freewheeling chat with CineBlitz and spoke about Dream Girl, Ayushmann coming on-board and lots more.
Dream Girl is your directorial debut, how has your experience been helming the project?
I was assuming it to be way more difficult but it isn’t like that. We were having fun. The thing with Ayushmann is, he enjoys working and the whole team was enjoying the process. For me as a director, whatever I was asking my actors to do they were gracious enough to do it and that is how everything fell into place.
Now that you have been on the other side of the table, what do you think is more challenging – direction or writing?
According to me writing has to be more challenging. Because the director comes in at a phase where he knows that he has to direct whatever is written. But when you begin writing you don’t know what to write and what not to, you start from the scratch. So, writing will be the most difficult job in this hierarchy forever. Yes, some people do write on someone else’s story and direct them but when you have to create a world from zero and make it believable it is challenging.
Do you have to set some rules as a writer?
No, but I have to meet people to bring that realness. Be it observational comedy or situational comedy, it all comes from your observations and the real-life experiences. Talk to people, meet as many as you can, because experience won’t come to you if you talk to yourself. So as a writer for me, some things are already in my mind, some people give me, and the combination of the two is writing. There are no particular set of rules or process, thoughts have their way, own time and you cannot control them.
Tell us something more about Dream Girl…
I can’t talk much about the film at this point, but yes, it’s a different form of presentation. It’s a normal film, shot in India, the landscapes we know. People should go with their families to enjoy the film and see Ayushmann in this new avatar.
Where did the idea come from?
My co-writer Nirmaan (Nirmaan D Singh) had brought this concept to me while I was busy with Welcome Back. It was just an idea then and we decided to do something on it. It took us some time to polish it, nurture and finally stamp it ready. It was a niche film initially, now it is a commercial film where more people can connect to it.
How important is it to make your film commercial?
Making a commercial film does not always mean that one wants to mint money. The thing is appreciation; you cannot just run in a race forever without winning anything. In today’s scenario if you make good content on any platform you are appreciated, but also if a film earns good it will open gateway for that producer to make more such good films. So, commercialisation is important.
Was Ayushmann your first choice for this part?
Yes, we wrote this story with Ayushmann in our minds. We had decided the first person I narrate this story has to be Ayushmann and if he rejects it, then we will go to someone else.
What was Ayushmann’s first reaction to it?
So, I had messaged Ayushmann that I have something for you when Balaji Telefilms were not in the frame at all. Ayushmann was busy shooting for some project then which led to a fortnight gap after our conversation. In the meanwhile Balaji came on board, Ekta (Ekta Kapoor) liked the script and she called up Ayushmann and he didn’t know it was the same script I had approached him for. He had some 10-15 minutes free, he called us over to Yashraj Studios. Then I narrated a few scenes and the next thing I know is Ayushmann was on board in 10 minutes. Though he took a narration for 2 hours afterwards, but the first yes was in 10 minutes.
How did the casting progress?
Ayushmann was nervous if he can pull it off, but then when I made him understand the backdrop and the set up he was okay. Then slowly people started coming in, Anu Kapoor, Nushrat Barucha, Abhishek Banerjee, Manjot. The team started to develop so strong that it in turn boosted Ayushmann’s confidence. If you see the complete cast and crew I am the fresher here. So, I’m glad I had such a talented entourage in my first film as a director.
When an actor like Ayushmann is working in your film, how much are you under pressure to deliver what’s expected?
See, my concern has always been to execute what I want or what I feel. If the person working with me has something better than what I have, I would be more than happy to consider. So the pressure is not on one of us, we were on the same ground to make this film happen. We were having our time, enjoying the process.
We are witnessing a lot of stories coming out from North India, in this case, how do you keep the set up fresh?
When you go into the small town India to make a film, you either show the landscape or the characters closely. So, we have tried inculcating both in our film. If your film is set in a particular place, it should reflect. We have shot in Gokul, the set-up is very simple – narrow lanes, colourful houses, small shops. So when you see Dream Girl you will have the flavour of Mathura, be it Ramleela or Krishnaleela.
What do you feel about writers getting their dues and being celebrated now?
I began with TV in a show called Comedy Circus. Then, writers were not given credits in the end roll, so I asked why my name was not there. They said no one ever asked for it, but I didn’t back out. I was ready to leave the job if not given credit. So I was the first writer on TV to have spoken about this. I didn’t come here just to earn money. Also when you mention a writer you credit the content that is being made. The audience has evolved, no longer are they going for just the stars, they want to know who wrote that world. I am happy that it is happening. Every piece of good work needs appreciation. Also, a huge shoutout to all the journalists and reviewers who talk about the writers and give them a centre stage to enjoy the limelight.
For more updates and gossip, stay tuned to CineBlitz.
Bollywood shooting locations with Ridhima Pathak. Watch new show on Zing and ETC!
Bollylands.com – Bollywood ka Global Connection, anchored by Ridhima Pathak features international locales where Hindi movies have been filmed
Bollywood plays a major role in attracting Indian tourists to lands far away. In the course of years we have grown up watching films with beautiful songs and scenes shot abroad – and seeing countries we have never been to. Bollylands.com – Bollywood ka Global Connection is the new show anchored by Ridhima Pathak, which airs on Zing on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 pm. It also airs on ETC on Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:30pm. Ridhima Pathak while talking to CineBlitz, speaks about the show, her career and many other interesting things.
Tell us something about how you began your career in showbiz?
I always liked to be on stage and have the spotlight but I never thought I could make this a career. I am an engineer by qualification and topper of my university, I was a nerd but one who loved to be on stage. I participated in a lot of debates and extempore and literally made those competitions as a source of income during my engineering days. I was good at it and won most of them; the prize money was good and served as additional pocket money. I was campus hired and was working in the R&D department of a multi-billion dollar company, coding transmissions to automate trucks in the USA!
I left that job to prepare to do my MBA as I wanted to go and study in Harvard but during the preparation period I also went and auditioned as an anchor in a local channel in Pune! I got the gig and started working for them as a freelancer, after which I did cricket commentary for a lot of local clubs in Pune. From there I got a break with Star sports and the rest is, as they say, history.
Tell us about your new show?
It’s a brilliant concept and so relevant. Our Bollywood movies have a huge part in promoting tourism within India and abroad. Europe has been Bollywood’s hot favourite which has given dreams to the masses of India of once visiting those locations shown in Bollywood movies. They wish to travel in trains the way Raj and Simran did or dance in locations where Govinda and Karishma Kapoor romanced. They might just think of going on a honeymoon alone the way Kangana did to find a suitable partner.
Films also make the audience curious to know more about those locations or how those iconic scenes were shot. Bollylands.com – Bollywood ka Global Connection is a show about this girl who is a Bollywood buff travelling the world through the lenses of Bollywood and is a guide for the audience – plus the show is loaded with Bollywood trivia.
According to you what is the one unique thing that this show will offer?
If you love TV and movies and are curious to know what goes into shooting at outdoor locations, then this show is for you. The thought and hardships that have gone into making an iconic song or scene, with the presenter at that location makes it all the more easier for the viewer to visualize, rather than just being a chat show. This show has plenty to offer, we showcase major attractions and landmarks that have been an integral part of our Bollywood movies.
Along with this, we also present a slice of the local culture, food, nightlife and shopping destinations of those locations. Plus, at the end of each episode, we have a special segment where we meet the cast and crew of the films that have been shot there to tell us about some trivia and fun facts about their time abroad.
What are some of the destination that the show will cover? Which of these are your favourites?
Austria, Germany, Hungary and many more have been covered in Season 1. My favourite would be Budapest. It’s culturally rich, beautiful and spectacular. While walking through the Charles bridge with a camera being pointed at me, I honestly felt that some where from the corner Sanjay Leela Bhansali was watching. He had used the bridge as a metaphor so beautifully in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam!
What is the best thing about being a presenter?
The best thing about being a presenter is that the world is your platter. If you are hungry for knowledge and know how to deliver that information in style, then you can have an opportunity to present! From spelling bee competitions to travelogues to food to sports to Bollywood to a show on manufacturing units to trucks to tigers to sharks to adventure sports to public affairs to politics to what women want to Mann ki baat… anything and everything under the roof and I have done everything mentioned above and more!
Tell us three things that people do not know about you.
I am a trained Kathak dancer; I am trying to loose weight but I have sweet tooth so it’s getting difficult; and I still want to go to Harvard!
Stay tuned to CineBlitz for more exclusive news and updates from the world of Bollywood.
Kunaal Roy Kapur confesses being scared of horror films
In a candid chat with CineBlitz Kunal Roy Kapur opened up about his break from the big screen, the web space flourishing and a lot more…
Kunaal Roy Kapur who rose to fame with Delhi Belly and Nautanki Saala also tried his luck in the web space. He was last seen in the TVF original Triplings. Now, Kunaal is heading on to try a new genre and doing a horror film titled Mushkil: Fear Behind You. The actor who is on a promotional spree right now, got into an exclusive conversation with CineBlitz and spoke about horror as a genre, how much he liked Stree, how he finds web space more inclusive and what scares him. Read on…
What appealed to you to do a horror film?
I met the director and he narrated the whole story to me. He had a very clear vision in his head. Also he comes from a film background but he has also done a lot of work in the animation industry on films like Bal Ganesha and few more. According to me when someone has done animation he knows what he or she particularly needs, how a story is told visually. Also, the character appealed to me. I have been always doing roles where I play the nice guy, or bad things happening to me. But in this one I got a chance to play a flirt, a little bit larger than life, he is a guide. He has his own ways with women, little bit outspoken and I had never done that which excited me.
How much of a fan are you of horror films?
Horror is a fun genre when you work in it. I cannot say that I am a horror fan or love watching horror films. I am scared of horror films, the most I can do is IT, more adventure horror say Stranger Things, that’s it. If you go towards Insidious,Anabelle, Exorcism of Emily Rose, are not at all my cup of tea since childhood. When I was a kid, I used to run to other room. But at the same time when you are making a horror film, the fun you have, no other genre has.
In the times where horror comedies are also making it big, what is the unique aspect you are bringing with this film?
I love horror comedy and I loved Stree, which did a fabulous job of cracking the genre. People had attempted in the past but didn’t reach the perfection maybe. I wish I was a part of that kind of a film as well, because, horror and comedy combination and it also had a nice social message in it. Having said that, there will always be a space for pure horror, ours is more of a pure horror film.
We don’t get to see much of you on the big screen, is it a conscious effort to take long breaks?
It’s not like that; there are a lot of opportunities in the web space right now. I have been doing a few shows including one for Amazon prime and I did one for Eros now. So I am saying that to do good work is now not only limited to the big screen. Also, how the people consume it is not longer only a big screen. So, right now I am more on web than films.
So, what according to you is the difference between the web space and big screen?
I think writing is the main difference, with big screen you need to be able to cater a wider spread of audience so your writing has to be broader. With web you can target a certain bracket, whether age group, sensibilities or genre can be even more specific. It’s a capsule that you can consume anywhere, anytime at you leisure. That is the beauty of writing in web space where you can go specific. Also, the production value with the OTT’s is at power.
What’s difficult comedy or horror?
As an actor I would say, comedy is more difficult. If you are making the film, horror is more difficult. But both are enjoyable, have their set of challenges. But still comedy for me is difficult and challenging than horror.
For more updates and gossip, stay tuned to CineBlitz.
Nach Baliye 9: Madhurima Tuli opens up about her equation with Vishal Aditya Singh
Contrary to Vishal Aditya Singh’s claim of not being on talking terms with ex-girlfriend Madhurima Tuli, the actress has another tale to tell
Nach Baliye 9’s ex-couple Vishal Aditya Singh and Madhurima Tuli worked together in Chandrakanta. And the two even started dating each other, but a few months back the couple called it quits and as per Vishal they were not even on talking terms. But destiny had other plans and the exes are now participating in the Salman Khan produced dance reality show. Throughout the show’s promotion Madhurima’s identity was kept a secret, but now that it is revealed that she is Vishal’s baliye, we got in touch with the actress who spoke about their bittersweet equation, the reports of the same and her experience on the show. Read on…
How is the Nach Baliye experience?
Well, the rehearsals and everything is going fantastic, there is the ‘ex’ factor where there is a little bit of friction, but otherwise, everything is fantastic. Hope you will like the show, the first episode has aired, and tonight will be my revelation.
Reports state that there are a lot of differences and constant bickering between you two. What do you have to say about that?
Honestly, there are a lot of issues between us. But when we thought of doing this we thought let’s do it to win the show without getting any of our issues in between. We broke up a few months back only, the friction is very strong. Sometimes he doesn’t agree to what I say or I do not agree to what he says, so, it just gets very difficult to practice with someone who doesn’t understand you. But we both always wanted to do Nach Baliye, so I am just keeping that aside. If we have a fight, I come back home and try and forget the misunderstanding, the next day I again go with a very happy zone thinking I have to win the show and give my best. So it’s about thinking positive and not let anything negative affect you.
Before the show, Vishal got a lot of coverage, and he even spoke a lot of things about the equation between you two. Was this because your identity was kept a secret?
Yes, it was because of the secret factor. There is no such thing that he is getting more coverage or anything, in the end, it is only going to be both of us doing the show together. So it was just because of the mystery factor.
In one of the interviews, Vishal said that when was approached for the show with you, he wasn’t very keen. What was your reaction to all this?
I was quite shocked, at that time we were on talking terms and he saying this was very disheartening for me. We are talking; once in a blue moon we meet also, he used to come home also, so we were on talking terms and him saying this had really broken my heart. So, then I thought that now toh I have to do it (the show), if he doesn’t want to he will refuse. Let him say no then we won’t do it because they had approached me also.
Don’t you think the friction might affect your chemistry on stage during the performances?
That I don’t know. I am trying hard…I am thinking that he is my co-actor, and not thinking he is my ex or was my lover at some point, I just keep all that aside. Without getting involved I am giving my performances. Hopefully, that chemistry comes out…even in the friction that angst should also come out, that also looks nice. Depends on how the audience takes it.
What about your equation with other Jodis, who do you think is a strong competition and who is your favourite?
I love all of them, they are amazing people. They perform so beautifully, though Rohit Reddy (Anita Hassanandani’s baliye) is a non-dancer, he is doing great, he is working hard. They share beautiful chemistry, Prince-Yuvika are amazing, mostly all are. Aly-Natasha are fantastic, Babita-Vivek are good. It’s all about bringing that chemistry and content to your story. Kieth-Rochelle are also a lovely couple.
What is next on the work front, whether after Nach Baliye 9 or along with it?
My web-show will be coming out soon with Applause Entertainment. The dubbing is on right now, so after Nach Baliye 9 I will be promoting that show.
Well, we look forward to seeing this bittersweet equation get better on Nach Baliye 9 and we wish Vishal and Madhurima all the very best. Stay tuned to CineBlitz for more updates on the dance reality show.
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