Ferrari Ki Sawari director: Was tempted to sit in Sachin's Ferrari
He has made a film on Ferrari but debutant director Rajesh Mapuskar was too scared to even take a drive in it. Mapuskar is riding on top speed as he is making some last minute changes to his film, Ferrari Ki Sawaari which releases this Friday.
Produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, the film has Sharman Joshi and Boman Irani in the lead.
The debutant director who has assisted on films like Munnbhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munnabhai and 3 Idiots still can't figure out what brought him to the movies. Although his family owns a theater (which no longer functions) in the small town called Sajanand in Raigad district, his parents, he says, were least interested in films.
In an candid conversation with Sonil Dedhia, Mapuskar talks about his cinematic journey so far, his association with Rajkumar Hirani and what went into making Ferrari Ki Sawaari.
Ferrari Ki Sawaari has been in the making for nearly four years; how did the film come about?
The idea struck me during the post production of Munnabhai MBBS. But the active work on the film began about four years ago.
I used to produce advertisement films and campaigns. I remember there was a press shoot and we wanted very expensive cars, one of them being a Ferrari. I am very good in coordinating so I was given the job to provide a Ferrari.
I was taking a stroll on Pali Hill when I saw a car parked inside a building. I thought, what if I just take the car and shoot today and bring it back in the evening? I thought there could be a film around something like this.
Image: Rajesh Mapuskar with Sharman Joshi
'We wrote about 72 drafts for Ferrari Ki Sawaari'
Four years is a long time and audience tastes can change. From the raw idea to the way the film looks now, what changes had to be incorporated?
Nothing had to be changed. Thankfully I have a producer like Vidhu Vinod Chopra who doesn't worry about trends.
He just told me to make my film pure, innocent, and from my heart. He stood by me and let me do whatever I wanted.
But yes, there was a change as we wrote about 72 drafts of this film. Still, what we shot wasn't what was written because it eventually just became a blueprint, what actors create on the sets is impromptu.
There were reports that you were planning test runs for certain audiences. Did that happen?
Yes, we did a lot of test runs, and after that re-edited the film. We deleted some scenes and added some scenes.
It's important to check how the story is flowing. At any point it shouldn't get away from the film. It should just run. There are moments which just glide, while some are slow, to give you a breather and get you ready for the next one.
It's a very difficult thing to balance a two-and-a-half hour film. Because you live with your story so much that you kind of lose that judgment. You get so attached to a film.
Image: A scene from Ferrari Ki Sawaari
'Sharman is a natural actor'
Many big stars were considered for the lead role in the film. What made you pick Sharman Joshi?
After I wrote the script, most of the top stars heard it and showed interest in working in the film.
Vidhu told me not to worry about the stars and the money involved. He just told me to take the right person for each character.
When we got into the process, Sharman Joshi fit the bill perfectly. He kept on giving auditions and never got tired. He is a very natural actor and completely understands the requirements of a shot.
Wouldn't having an established star be safer than taking the risk of Sharman Joshi who is doing his first solo lead?
There was never a risk, especially a financial risk. I had Vidhu Vinod Chopra standing behind me (laughs). He told me, 'Go and waste as much money you can. I have earned a lot. I will be happy that I stood by a film that had a good story and didn't invest my money in what sells in the market.'
Image: Movie poster of Ferrari Ki Sawaari
'I didn't sit in the Ferrari at all'
The car (Ferrari) is a character in itself. It probably cost more than what you paid Sharman Joshi for the film.
(Laughs) I was very caring about it and took extra precautions to protect it. I didn't sit in the car at all. There were bodyguards all around the car round the clock.
The car belonged to Sachin Tendulkar.
Didn't you get tempted to sit in the Ferrari?
I was very tempted but I kept all my temptation away and concentrated on making the film!
You've also included cricket as a backdrop. Was it included because it is the most playable sport in the country?
No, none of the elements you see in the film are forced. I started following the characters and the story while writing it which actually gave me the way to capture what I could.
It wasn't that I had to include cricket. It was like, who has a Ferrari? Sachin Tendulkar has a Ferrari. Sachin plays cricket and hence cricket.
Then I added emotions about my memories with my father, my relation with my son. So it all started falling in place.
It is said that you rejected quite a lot of dialogue written by Raj Kumar Hirani and made him re-write a lot...
It isn't that Raju wrote the dialogues and we changed it just for the heck of it.
My system of working is to follow my actors. I am a director and have 20 things running through my head, but the actor is only concentrating on his character and he knows his character better than me so I will follow his instinct first and then go by what is written.
If you only shoot what's written, then you don't need a director.
Image: Movie poster of Ferrari Ki Sawaari
'I used to book tickets at a cinema hall in my town'
How did your cinematic journey start?
I come from a small town called Shrivardhan in Raigad district. We had a cinema hall called Sajanand Talkies in my town which was a family-owned business. There used to be only two shows, afternoon and night, and my duty was to sit at the booking window for the afternoon show.
I ended up watching a lot of films and listening to a lot of music. Whenever a new movie was released I had to paint the posters of the film.
My cousin was a commercial artist in Mumbai and I always wanted to come to Mumbai. My father was against it-- he wanted me to become a chartered accountant.
I just wanted to come to Mumbai anyhow so I enrolled for a B Com. I really wanted to go to the JJ School of Art but my father was against it. I got to know a serial director who offered me a salary of Rs 1200 and I instantly joined him.
What did you do in your first job?
My friend used to do story narration sessions with his advertising clients. I started giving my inputs, and since they liked it, they would incorporate that too.
Slowly and steadily I became an assistant director. I started enjoying it. Till then the thought of direction never struck me.
I was good friends with Raju Hirani and he asked me to assist him in his first film Munnabhai MBBS. Even after I started working with him I didn't think of becoming a director.
Even now if you ask me, I'd say my dream was never about making a movie and it is still not about making a movie.
I have made my first film but I don't know if I'll make another film. It's just that I think I found myself through the medium of making films.
Does the cinema hall in your village still exist?
Yes, but only the projection room (laughs). I have plans to restore it.
Image: Boman Irani in Ferrari Ki Sawaari
'My father assumed that Raju Hirani was the director of Ferrari Ki Saawari'
Vidhu Vinod Chopra mentioned that you cheated your father to come to Mumbai...
In a way, yes, but not directly. I had to tell my father a lie. I completed my BCom and got just 36 per cent (laughs). I knew my father would call me back and get me into the family business.
Somehow I convinced him that I wanted to do a management course and enrolled myself at Wellingkar Institute for an evening course. My father was very proud that I was doing it.
So, how did he react when you started assisting in advertisements and eventually in films?
He was not very happy but he said if you are doing something do it responsibly.
When I started directing Ferrari Ki Sawaari and I informed him about it, he had no reaction. He asked me who the main director was and he assumed that Raju Hirani was the main director.
Image: Vidya Balan in Ferrari Ki Sawaari
'Sharman's character in the film come from my father'
Tell us about your association with Rajkumar Hirani.
Raju and I have been friends for the last 22 years. We actually started our journey in advertising almost at the same time--we met when we were both models for an ad film (laughs).
We started spending a lot of time together. We used to roam around on his bike, find cheap places to eat since we didn't have a lot of money.
We both worked as independent advertisement producers. Then one day he decided to make a film and that's how we got into films.
What did you learn from him?
I discovered Raju through his films. I had spent 15 years with him before he made his first film but when I saw Munnabhi MBBS I really knew what he was capable of.
He is a very jovial person and is a prank master but there is an emotional part to him. For him the film is the most important thing.
He has a lot of patience and he fights till the end; these are the things that I learnt from him. He is almost like a guru for me.
Does your personal experience with your father reflect in the film?
Yes. Everything that you see in the film has been personally experienced by me.
My relationship with my father and my sons is shown in the film. The traits of Sharman's character in the film come from my father.
There are a lot of experiences in my life that I have included in the film. I feel unless you bring some of your personal elements in the film, you cannot direct a film.
Image: Vidya Balan in Ferrari Ki Sawaari