'He is optimistic and brave.'
Karwaan takes us on a road trip in south India, with Irrfan, Dulquer Salmaan and Mithila Palkar providing lovely entertainment.
And it's all put together by Director Akarsh Khurana.
Akarsh loves to be a busybody, as he works back-to-back, giving us the Web series Yeh Meri Life, a feature film High Jack in May, and of course, Karwaan.
He takes Patcy N/Rediff.com on his beautiful journey.
How did the idea behind Karwaan originate?
The seed of the idea came from Bejoy Nambiar, but the screenplay is by Adhir Bhat and me.
Adhir and I acted in David, which was directed by Bejoy.
When we were shooting in Ooty and Belfast, he narrated a story about somebody who had received the wrong body and had to travel to get the right one.
We liked it because it was a bizarre idea.
We told him we wanted to flesh it out. We started writing and Hussain Dalal came on board to write the dialogues.
Did any film inspire you?
No. I keep being asked about Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, but they are not similar at all.
There's a dead body in that film, but here, you hardly ever see the body.
My film is about people reconciling with their relationships.
When we were building on the idea, it was best to keep it fresh.
In a recent tweet, Dulquer said he missed Irrfan Khan during the promotions.
I miss him too.
How is he doing?
It is hard to say. I spoke to him after he watched the film (in London); he was sounding good. I hope that is a good sign.
Hussain was at the screening in London, and he said that Irrfan was looking better.
It is a tough time, so it is best not to ask such questions.
He is optimistic and brave.
He watched the film with his family and was very happy. Hussain said his family also enjoyed it.
He spoke with me and said the film has shaped up very well. He was happy with the film's music. It was a relief.
He had seen the edit before he was diagnosed (with cancer) and then, he saw the final film in London.
During the shoot, did he ever complain about tiredness or ill health?
No. He was fighting fit.
But we finished shooting last October and he was diagnosed this year.
He even did his own stunts.
A duplicate was going to do the stunt -- he had to hang off a car window -- and we had already designed the shot with him.
But when Irrfan saw the rehearsal thrice, he told the action director that he would like to try it. He got it right in the second take and that saved us a day of shooting.
There were no signs then, and that's why I think we were even more shocked.
How did you get Dulquer and Irrfan on board?
We would have never have imagined of getting Dulquer and Irrfan together, but once the producers -- Ronnie Screwvala and Priti Gupta -- came on board...
It was Ronnie who suggested Irrfan. We never imagined we would get an audience with him.
We went to Delhi where Irrfan was shooting Hindi Medium. He immediately said yes after listening to the script.
Associate Producer Shubh Shivasani recommended Dulquer.
I had seen Charlie and loved it, but the character was very different.
I wanted to see more of his work, so I watched Ustad Hotel and O Kadhal Kanmani.
I realised he has a great range.
We met him in Chennai and I realised he was very close to my character.
He is such a nice guy and he seemed to get the script completely.
It took him a week to say yes.
Mithila Palkar went through a two-month audition process. I have known her from her theatre days, even before she got famous (with her YouTube video).
Karwaan releases with Fanney Khan and Mulk.
There are 52 Fridays in a year and 300 films. It's not possible to get an open weekend unless you have a massive film like Padmaavat or Race 3.
My previous film High Jack was supposed to release in April, but because of the Censor Revision Committee, it opened in May. It released in the second week of Raazi and that's why we did not get theatres.
Raazi was doing so well and there were two more releases on the same day.
Also, we can't ignore Hollywood films now; they do really good business.
This is Dulquer's first Hindi film and he speaks the language quite well.
He is good with languages. He is a Malayalam actor, who has done Tamil and Telugu films. He has learnt the languages himself.
He studied abroad -- he has lived in Dubai and New York -- and has a global influence. That helped shape his personality.
Before going to shoot, we asked him about his Hindi and he said he would work on himself.
When we called him for the reading, we expected to make a lot of corrections but 95 percent was perfect.
I had hired an assistant to work with him, to rehearse his lines on a daily basis. But we stopped on the third day because he had already done his homework.
You have gifted the van to Dulquer?
Yes. The blue van is a very important character in the film, so there is an emotional connect with that.
It's an old model, and Dulquer is an automobile fanatic.
You write, act and direct. How do you juggle so many things?
I started with theatre. I have a theatre company called Akvarious Productions since 2000.
In 2003, I started writing Krrish and also assisted on the film.
It has never felt like juggling because that's my way of life.
I feel uncomfortable if I do not have things to do. I feel unemployed.
Besides Karwaan, my new play will open on the same day.
I have done a Web series (Yeh Meri Family).
Your father Akash Khurana is an actor too. Is that why you got into acting and direction?
A lot of people mistake me for my father. Somebody asked me if I started working from 1981. I had to say I was just two then! (laughs)
The environment you grow up in influences you.
But having said that, I spent very little time on my father's shoots. I used to find it boring.
I honestly believe if you are not working on a set, it is a really boring place.
I don't understand why people want to go to shoots.
Once you see it, you will know it is dull. People seem to be adjusting lights forever.
I spent a lot of time around him in theatre; I practically grew up at Prithvi theatre. I think that rubbed off on my choices.
In school, I did theatre; this is a natural progression of being in that environment.
My father has done a lot of writing -- he wrote Aashiqui and Baazigar when I was in school. He would talk to me about it, so there was certainly some kind of inclination coming from there.
My brother Adhaar did not want anything to do with this and he went to Scotland to study forensic biology. He came back after four years and became a writer and actor.
I started assisting Robin Bhatt, who was my father's partner.
I don't enjoy being an actor much.
My father was clear that I must complete my education first, become a post graduate, and only then pursue this career. So then, there would be something to fall back on.
I have got two post graduation degrees -- in advertising and marketing, and film and television. I did a corporate job for two-and-a-half years as a marketing manager, but the creative urge got me to do theatre.
So I do have a back-up plan -- my father is a PhD himself.
He told me, 'In our family, sons are supposed to be more educated than their fathers.'
So, I said, 'Boss, yeh toh nahi hoga.'
What was it like working with Robin Bhatt?
I started as an apprentice; I used to be the guy who would take notes when Robin was writing films.
Because Robin and dad were partners, I had a great equation with him.
I started working on Rohan Sippy and Raj Kanwar's projects, but they never got made.
I was considering returning to corporate work when Rakesh Roshan said he wanted to meet me.
I started working on Krrish. Robin was also working with me.
U Me Aur Hum, Kites, Krrish 3, Humshakals and (the Web series) Tripling are my other wors.
Have you signed another film after Karwaan?
I am supposed to do a film with Ronnie Screwvala, but don't know anything yet.
I want to take a holiday.
I have been working back-to-back with Yeh Meri Family, High Jack and Karwaan. I haven't had a break in the last two years.