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'Om Puri is effortless at comedy'
January 07, 2003 13:24 IST
Music video director Anubhav Sinha's first feature Tum Bin made a tidy enough profit for him to make another movie. His second film goes by the quirky name, Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai. Amidst a hectic schedule of editing, promotion and dubbing, the director took time off to talk to Subhash K Jha:
Why V Shantaram after Ram Gopal Varma?
Oh you mean the long title? I'll tell you how the title came about. After the first draft of the script I didn't have a title. So I just wrote what came in my mind. Aapko Pehle Bhi Kahin Dekha Hai is the opening line of an old song from Tum Haseen Main Jawan. After that this title just stuck.
Aapko Pehle… looks as romantic as Tum Bin.
It isn't a romantic film. It's almost a comedy.
Comedy in our cinema has always been associated with a certain sensibility. This film doesn't cater to that sensibility.
How did this second directorial venture come about?
After Tum Bin, I just lay back and watched the world go by. I forgot I had to make another film. My son Shlok was born and I became immersed in fatherhood. Then I realised Shlok needs to be looked after. I started thinking of what to do next. I kept remembering how much everyone enjoyed the comedy scenes in Tum Bin, so I decided to make something frothy. But Aapko Pehle is not a comedy, it is a humorous film.
Is it an adaptation of Father Of The Bride and Meet The Parents?
If you say Tum Bin was an adaptation of Kinara and Magnificent Obsession then Aapko… is Father Of The Bride and Meet The Parents. But the similarities are skindeep. My film is about an over-possessive father who can't accept the fact that it's time for her to make her own life and home.
Do you think Father Of The Bride and Meet The Parents are similar? Cinema is about renewal and continuity. In that sense Aapko Pehle belongs to the same genre. It is a father-daughter film. Unlike other films on that theme mine is done in comic vein.
You wanted Amitabh Bachchan for the father's role, didn't you?
Yes, the role was written for him. But he thought he had done characters like this before, and it wasn't appropriate for him to do another one. I disagreed, but accepted his decision.
Om Puri proved a delightful alternative. I couldn't have asked for more from an actor. Om Puri is effortless at comedy. People rediscovered his comic talent after Kamal Haasan's Chachi 420. I had worked with Ombhai earlier in my serial Sea Hawks. So there is a personal rapport with him.
As for Priyanshu Chatterjee and Sakshi who play the romantic lead, I didn't approach anyone else. I had told Rani Mukherjee about Aapko Pehle. She said she would love to do the role if Mr Bachchan played the father. We never met.
Has Priyanshu evolved as an actor since Tum Bin?
A lot. He has become more confident before the camera. I don't know if it is because of his stint at acting school in New York or the films he has been shooting since Tum Bin. Sakshi started her career in Mumbai. After a film in which wasn't noticed, she went South and became a star. Now she is back in Hindi films with my film.
Sakshi's chemistry with her screen father is very important to the film's impact. But the most important chemistry is between Om Puri and Priyanshu.
Why did you shoot it abroad?
I enjoyed shooting Tum Bin in Canada. So I went back again. When I shoot abroad, 90 per cent of a film is complete. Shooting moves much more slowly in Mumbai..
Why are there so many songs in your film?
After I showed my film to some women, I asked them if there were too many songs. They said no unanimously. Yes, there are 10 songs, but many are in the background or in fragments. Effectively, there are only five songs.