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'My father Shekhar Suman can go to any extent to see me happy'

February 07, 2014 14:53 IST

'My father Shekhar Suman can go to any extent to see me happy'

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Patcy N in Mumbai

Adhyayan Suman and Ariana Ayam get emotional about Heartless.

Shekhar Suman directs his son Adhyayan for the first time in Heartless, releasing February 7.

The film is quite close to their heart, as the protagonist suffers from a medical condition that Shekhar Suman’s older son Aayush succumbed to in 1994.

Adhyayan claims the experience of working with his dad was “emotional, outstanding, amazing, a dream come true.”

Adhyayan’s first film was Haal-E-dil in 2008. He says his father and he had decided that if they ever worked together, it would be in a different genre, new to the industry.

“We have tried to do that (with Heartless). I really hope that we succeed,” Adhyayan says.

“The film is dedicated to my brother. Apart from that, there were so many struggles, problems, frustration, rejections that we have been through during this film,” says Adhyayan.

“Everything was done by my father, from producing it, to directing it, to financing. He has acted in the film, he has sung a song and written the lyrics of a song, written a couple of dialogues for the film. He has done everything single-handed. I think that was tough.”

He says his father did all this because he has the talent to do it and if he hadn’t done it, the film would fall flat.

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Image: Adhyayan Suman and Ariana Ayam
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar

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'If I fail, I will go back home and go back to graphic designing'

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The lead actress in the film, Ariana Ayam, was born in Afghanistan. Her family moved to New York when she was a year old. She is a graphic designer in New York, who had a regular job which she quit to star in this film.

Surprisingly, she says she did not do this because she wanted to be an actress.

“I did it for a friend. I wanted to do something different. I don’t regret it. If I fail, I will go back home and go back to graphic designing, which is my first passion,” she says.

Ariana doesn’t know any Hindi and admits it was “definitely tough” doing the film on account of that and because it was her first film.

“I didn’t have any training. I knew Shekharji and Adhyayan would be there for me, to help me, and they have. I learnt so much from them, whether it was acting or language or everything involved with the film.”


Image: Adhyayan Suman and Ariana Ayam in Heartless


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'Adhyayan and I have been really good friends in New York'

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She got drawn into the film because of her friendship with Adhyayan.

“Adhyayan and I have been really good friends in New York. He asked me to do a short film for him for a college project, just for fun. I had not acted before but he convinced me to do it.”

She adds, “Shekharji was looking for an actress for this film and auditioned a lot of girls but he couldn’t find the character that he was looking for. Then he remembered that I had done a short film with Adhyayan. He watched it again and felt he had found his Ria (the character Ariana plays in Heartless.)

At first she turned down the offer to act in Heartless because of her inexperience and the language problem.

What changed her mind was the story and the character she was to play.

“I loved it. It was something different and amazing. I came to India believing that Shekharji and Adhyayan would be there to help me. They have, and it’s been a wonderful journey,” Ariana said.

She learnt Hindi with the help of Shekhar and Adhyayan and from watching films and television serials like Choti Bahu.

“I also saw plays. It was so interesting. I love it. I can understand Hindi fully now, but I have an accent.

“Shekharji who speaks such good Hindi helped me with my acting and dubbing, songs, everything. I was amazed that one person is so talented.”


Image: Adhyayan Suman and Ariana Ayam
Photographs: Abhijit Mhamunkar

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'When it came to actually getting help and support, we did not get it'

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Despite the talent, Adhyayan says his father was quite frustrated when he couldn’t get a producer for the film.

“He was depressed. Despite being 30 years in this industry, at the end of the day you are alone and you have to make it yourself. That’s how the industry functions,” he says.

He claims that the industry betrayed them.

“We are a very emotional family. We just ignored all this; we had a blindfold around our eyes. We had some other image of the industry. When it came to actually getting help and support, we did not get it,” says an emotional Adhyayan.

That is why he doesn’t want people to say “Adhyayan Suman is good. The first thing I want people to say is ‘Shekharji ne itni kamal ka film banayi hain’.”

He is not thinking about the film making it into the 100 crore club or whether he will be able to buy a new car after this. “I want people to appreciate what my father has created. That is very important for me. That is why I get nervous about whether people will like it or not. The four trial shows have given us an outstanding response.

“My father told me one simple thing: I am not making this film for 100 crore rupees; I am making the film for 100 crore people. If the people come to the theatre, they will surely like the film.”


Image: Adhyayan Suman and Ariana Ayam in Heartless


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'Too much love has been given to me in my life'

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In one of his interviews Shekhar Suman had said that when his son Aayush was very sick, Adhyayan had been neglected.

But Adhyayan brushes this aside. “I was way too young when all this happened. Even if they did, I don’t remember it. My parents have given me so much love over the years that even if I was neglected then, which I don’t think I was, I have no memory of it.

“Too much love has been given to me in my life. I am the luckiest kid on this earth that my parents can go to any extent to see me happy.”

The film was shot over just 22 days and for Ariana this was the hard part.

“The tough part was that we did not have so much time. We had to finish the shooting in 22 days. We were running from one location to another. We worked every single day and for long hours. That was really tough.”

The film has been shot in Dubai because, says Adhyayan, “Dubai has not been shown the way we have shown it in our film. People in Dubai who saw the trial couldn’t recognise the place. It is an interesting city to capture.”


Image: Adhyayan Suman and Ariana Ayam in Heartless


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'I was not allowed to move, eat food or go to the bathroom when we shot the surgery bit'

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Recalling some difficult moments from the shooting of the film, Adhyayan says, “Shooting in the operation theatre was a tough scene for me. I was put on an L-shaped table for 18 hours a day with a prosthetic to shoot the surgery bit.

“I was not allowed to move, eat food or go to the bathroom the entire day. We shot in the real heart transplant operation theatre and we had the operation theatre only for 10 days.”

All that lying down for long hours hurt his back so badly that he couldn’t walk for two or three days. “My father was emotional about that but he said, ‘If you want to be successful in life, you have to make some sacrifices.’”

The film is pretty much a family affair with Shekhar Suman’s wife Alka being the producer. So did Ariana ever feel left out of things?

“I never felt left out. I was actually very comfortable. We are all friendly and once we were on the sets, we were completely different, it was very professional,” she replies.


Image: Adhyayan Suman and Ariana Ayam in Heartless


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