How would you describe the experience of working with two generations of actors in the same film?
Jugjugg Jeeyo is my third film with Varun Dhawan. I had worked on Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya and Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya as AD chief. We also treated Varun like an AD. We used to say, “Varun aa na yaar, kar le (Varun, come and do this)”. I laugh. Varun used to ask me, ‘Tum Anil Sir aur Neetu ma’am se toh achhe se baat karte ho, lekin mere saath aise baat kyun karte ho?’
I had worked with Kiara on Good Newzz. So, with Varun and Kiara there was already a friendly relationship. In my first film, I had the opportunity to work with Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor, I remember thinking, “Is this really happening? I had the same feeling while working with Anil sir and Neetu madam. They are legends. You must be respectful, but you must know that you are the captain of the ship and you must lead the team. You must do the work, but with respect and pleasure.
How did you convince Neetu Kapoor to be part of the film?
Luckily Karan (Johar) had done half of my work before I met madam. Karan told him you had to come back. She was a little nervous and uncertain because Mr. Rishi had just passed away. So Karan told her it was a good story and she should do it, all of that happened before I went to tell the script. Luckily, she loved story after narration. She took time to think about it, simply because she was apprehensive about whether she wanted to work or not. A week later, she said, “I’m on.”
You had worked with Varun and Kiara before, but managing veterans like Neetu Kapoor, did you have to change your process?
I think you need to be a little more careful about how you do your things. With Anil sir and Neetu madam, you have to know that you are still a new director and you have to put yourself in place and tell them your point of view. I realized that legends are easier to direct and are more adaptable. Neither Monsieur Anil nor Madame Neetu had the attitude of having made so many films.
When I first met Madame Neetu, her voice and her personality overwhelmed me. I was nervous telling him the story. This did not happen with Anil sir. But with Neetu madam, I don’t know what it was. But when we started working together and built a professional relationship, everything was fine.
What was the difference between directing the older generation of actors and the younger ones?
There are similarities, I can’t think of the differences right off the bat. I think Varun is the younger version of Anil sir. They are both so passionate about their work. When we packed up at 6 p.m. An hour later, I was getting calls from both of them asking, “Kal ke scene mein yeh dialogue aise karte hain (For tomorrow’s scene, let’s deliver this dialogue in this specific way)”.
They are different actors. I don’t think generation matters. There is definitely a difference between Mr. Anil and Mr. Akshay. For example, Anil monsieur likes to repeat a lot. After receiving the script, he writes down all his dialogue to memorize it. Whereas mister Akshay is more spontaneous. He came to see me on the sets in the morning and asked me: “Haan bata kya kya karna hai (Tell me what to do)”. Thus, the approach to work is different depending on the actors. I don’t think generation makes a difference.
In your film, the older and younger couple want a divorce. Do you think that in relationships, the one who loves less tends to exercise more control while the one who loves more has to compromise?
It is a deep thought. I think it’s a script in itself. This thought seems a bit generalized. My film is about two couples who really love each other. What sums up the essence of the film, can also be found in the trailer. It is when Mrs. Neetu says, ‘Rishta tootne ki koi ek wajah nahin hoti. Bahut si adhoori ladaiyon ki thakaan hoti hai bas (There isn’t just one reason relationships break up. It’s just fatigue or countless unresolved fights).
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