How would you describe the experience of working with two generations of actors on the same film?
Jugjugg Jeeyo is my third movie with Varun Dhawan. I had worked on Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhani and Badrinath Ki Dulhani as AD Head. We treated Varun as AD as well. We used to say, “Varun aa na yaar, kar le (Varun, just come and do this)”. I’m just kidding. 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?”
She worked with Kiara on Good Newzz. Therefore, with Varun and Kiara, there was already a friendly relationship. In my first film, working with Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor, I remember thinking, “Is this really happening?” I have the same feeling of working with Anil Sir and Neetu Madam. They are legends. You have to be respectful, but you have to know that you are the captain of the ship and you have to lead the team. You need to get the work done but with respect and some fun.
How did you convince Neetu Kapoor to be a part of the movie?
Fortunately, Karan (Johar) had half of my work done before I met my madam. Karan tells her you have to go back. She was a little nervous and unsure because Rishi my master had just passed away. Karan told her it’s a good story and she has to do it, all this happened before I go and tell the script. Fortunately, I liked the story after the narration. She took a while to think about it, just because she had some concerns about whether or not she wanted to work. A week later, she said, “I’m on.”
You’ve worked with Varun and Kiara before, but while mentoring veterans like Neetu Kapoor, did you have to change your style of work?
I feel like you should be a little more careful about how you get your stuff done. With Anil sir and Neetu ma’am, you need to know that you are still a new director and you have to put yourself in their shoes and tell them your point of view. I’ve come to realize that legends are easier to direct and more adaptable. Neither Anil sir nor madam had the attitude they did in many films.
The first time Neetu met Madam, her voice and personality were affected. I was nervous while telling the story to her. This did not happen with Anil sir. But with my lady Neetu, I don’t know what it was. But when we started working together, and built a professional relationship, all was well.
What is the difference between directing senior actors versus the younger generation?
There are similarities, I can’t think of differences off the bat. I think Varun is the younger version of Anil sir. Both are very passionate about their work. When we were packing at 6pm. An hour later, I got calls from both of them asking, “Kal ke scene mein yeh dialogue aise karte hain (because tomorrow’s scene allows this dialogue to be presented in this specific way)”.
They are different actors. I don’t think generation matters. Surely there is a difference between Anil Sir and Akshay Sir. For example, Anil Sidi likes to train a lot. After he gets the text, he writes all his dialogues for safekeeping. While Akshay sir is more spontaneous. He would come to me on photo sets in the morning and ask, “Haan bata kya kya karna hai (tell me what to do)”. Therefore, the approach to action varies between actors. I don’t think generation makes any difference.
In your movie, the older and younger spouses want a divorce. Do you think that in relationships, the person who loves less tends to exercise more control while the person who loves more has to compromise?
This is a deep idea. I think this is a text in itself. This thought seems a bit generalized. My movie is about a couple who really love each other. What sums up the gist of the movie is also in the trailer. It’s when Madam Neetu says, “Rishta toten ki koi ek wagah nahin hoti. Bahut si adhoori ladaiyon ki thakaan hoti hai bas (there is no single reason for relationships to break up. It’s just stress or endless fights).”