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Waking up to Ranbir, Konkona

Last updated on: August 25, 2009 

Waking up to Ranbir, Konkona

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Coming from a filmi family, movies were an eventuality for Ayan Mukerji. Cousin to Kajol and Rani Mukerji, Ayan's grandfather owns Filmalaya Studios in suburban Mumbai. His father Deb Mukerji was a well known actor in his times.

Ayan will, however, not make his debut as an actor. Instead, the 24-year-old has cast himself as a director in Karan Johar's latest production, Wake Up Sid, starring Ranbir Kapoor and Konkona Sen Sharma.

He chats with Nithya Ramani, revealing more about himself, his filmi family and Wake Up Sid.

Was movies always on the cards for you?

I am just another kid, who grew up in Mumbai watching films. Those movies made me decide on becoming a director.

I assisted Ashutosh Gowariker on Swades. He is my brother-in-law, as he is married to my sister, Sunita. It was a good experience.

Then I joined Karan Johar and assisted him on Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. When I wrote my own script, I showed it to Karan. And now, here I am.


Image: Ranbir Kapoor and Ayan Mukherjee

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'I am a huge Shah Rukh Khan fan'

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Why did you shift from Ashutosh to Karan?

Honestly, I am a huge Shah Rukh Khan fan and all I did was follow him.

How Karan let me assist him is a strange story. I was partying with friends one day and one of them happened to have Karan's number. I was drunk and sent him an SMS saying that I would like to assist him. I added, 'I know you wouldn't reply to this message but I just wanted to let u know' in the SMS.

Maybe because I didn't expect him to reply. He replied saying he was glad to know that I was interested in working with him and that I had assisted Ashu before. He did not have an opening then, so I thought it was just a I-will-call-you-later-but-won't type of a conversation.

But later, when I went to the Goa Film Festival and met Karan, we discussed the SMS. We had breakfast together and one fine day, I was at Karan's office. The next thing I knew I was assisting him on Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna.

When did you realise you wanted to become a director?

I think when I saw Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I was 15 years old, just becoming independent and doing stuff my way. That film was life-altering for me.

Why director? Why not an actor? You're not so bad looking.

Bad looking? You should say I'm good looking! There was a short period in my life when I wanted to be an actor. But I'm not interested in it. Whenever I watch a film, my heart goes out to the director. He is the most respected person on the sets of a film. It is the director who drives everyone.

I knew I wanted to be a director much before I knew what it entailed. I didn't know anything about direction. But when I started directing Wake Up Sid, it was wonderful.


Image: A scene from Wake Up Sid

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'I wasn't scared to ask for help'

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What is the film about?

It took me two years to write the script. But still when people ask me this question, I don't have an answer.

It is difficult to put it in words. It is the story of a boy, who wakes up to his responsibilities, work and adulthood. I wanted to capture the joy of life, being irresponsible and enjoying the moment when you don't really have to do anything.

How was your first day of shooting?

I was very nervous the previous night. But when I went on the sets, it was smooth.

The first scene is shown in the theatrical promos -- Anupam Kher and Ranbir Kapoor are shown having an argument. Anupam wanted Ranbir to join him in their family business. The first scene was jubilation for me.

You have worked with people who have much more experience than you do.

I wasn't scared to ask for help. There were so many things I didn't know, and I would go and ask. Ranbir treated me like his kid. I had no problem with him. There is hardly a year's difference between our ages, so we got along very well. In fact, if there is something substantial I got from this film, it was his friendship. I think he will go a long way. From the day we met till today, we have grown so much as friends.

Anupam was a little intimidating at first but he made me feel comfortable.

Konkona and I have been close friends even before the film started. She is a very chilled out person and does what she feels like. People think since she acts in serious films, she will be serious on the sets. But she's not.


Image: A scene from Wake Up Sid

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'This film is a ode to Mumbai'

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What made you cast Ranbir and Konkona?

When I saw Ranbir in Saawariya, he looked like he had no inhibitions about being in front of the camera. He wasn't conscious and wouldn't mind sitting in boxers and saying dialogues with his mouth full of pizza. That's the kind of person I was looking for. He just fit Sid.

Karan and I decided on Konkona after the script was ready. We had thought of casting new faces but finally zeroed on her.

Aren't they quite the odd couple?

They are. And why not? People want to see Konkona with Ranvir Shourey and Ranbir with Deepika Padukone. I thought these two will make an interesting pair on screen. They represent different worlds off screen.

Where all have you shot the film?

Mumbai -- everywhere between Versova [in north western Mumbai] and Cuff Parade [in south Mumbai]. This film is a ode to Mumbai. I have shot in the very places where I would hang out with my friends.


Image: A scene from Wake Up Sid

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'We would tease Anil Mehta about his age'

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Tell us about the music of the film.

I love the music! We have background music only -- no lip sync songs. I wanted acoustic guitar and melodic songs. I used to listen to John Mayers and Jack Johnson and so couldn't think of anyone else but Shanker-Ehsaan-Loy to compose the music. They listen to the same kind of music and knew what exactly I wanted.

Shooting the song Kya Karoon was fun. I was shooting continuously throughout the day. It started in the afternoon and went on till the wee hours of the next day. I had fun shooting this song and just didn't want it to stop.

You had one of the best cinematographers Anil Mehta working with you. How was the experience?

He is best I have ever seen. He was the oldest among all of us but much younger at heart. We would tease him about his age.

What's special about him is that he is open to learning. He doesn't come to the table with all this experience. He always thinks that there is something new to learn in every film that he does.


Image: A scene from Wake Up Sid

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