'Being a director is brilliant. It's the second best job after being God because you get to create your own world and characters. You’re always in control.'
The man behind Tere Bin Laden -- Abhishek Sharma -- is back!
To make a film like Tere Bin Laden, you need a crazy director.
And that would be an apt description for Abhishek Sharma. Ask him anything, and he will give a comical reply.
So it's really no wonder he's taking the hilarious Tere Bin Laden franchise forward, with Tere Bin Laden: Dead Or Alive.
Abhishek talks to Jahnavi Patel/Rediff.com about the second installment and reveals why he cast Manish Paul instead of Ali Zafar, who starred in the first film.
How did you come up with this concept?
I hate sequels, personally, so I wasn't thinking of making one.
I find sequels a money-making affair for producers. If I become a producer tomorrow, I will make a sequel too.
When Osama Bin Laden died, the game became interesting.
When he died in such a dramatic fashion, the way America said they had killed him was very funny. They said silent choppers were sent and Pakistan did not know. They did not click any photograph of his body; just wrapped it up and threw it away.
You share videos of Saddam Hussein with the world, why aren't you sharing Bin Laden's videos? He's the biggest trophy! I found it very funny, and that inspired me to make this film.
I call the film a spin-off, not a sequel because it’s connected to the first film but not a continuation.
Why did you sign Manish Paul instead of Ali Zafar?
I took Manish Paul because Ali Zafar could not be Manish Paul.
Ali Zafar is also in the film in a special role. But he's doing only what he could have done.
This story is about Manish Paul’s character named Sharma. Ali Zafar could have never played this character, and Manish Paul is apt for it. I associate with his comic timing because it borders on farce. You need an actor with no inhibitions.
Do we see a part of you in Manish Paul’s character?
Yes, except the part where his father is a halwai. My father would kill me because he is in the Air Force. On the set, everybody knew Manish Paul’s character is based on me.
The only time my parents visited the sets was when we were shooting the halwai scene. It was really bad timing, because my father came when the stupidest version of me was being played out.
So I explained it to him that it was a fictional version of me. But I see a lot of myself in that character.
Why did you cast Sikandar Kher in a double role?
When we were writing the film, we decided to take two actors because there is a white guy with a Texan English and the other is a Punjabi guy. It was inconceivable to me that one person would pull off both characters. Apart from the look, I thought the two accents would be impossible too.
The credit for Sikandar's look goes to Vikram Gaikwad, my makeup designer. He is one person without whom I cannot make films.
I know Sikandar as I have bumped into him in parties.
He is a very funny guy and has never done a comedy. So I wanted to give him a shot for the Texan character. He was brilliant in the audition, and we signed him up.
He is the surprise factor of the film.
Did you expect Tere Bin Laden to become a hit?
I expected people to like it, as it was original. But I did not expect so much appreciation.
When I went to the theatres, people were laughing at things I hadn't expected them to -- they were catching subtle things.
That’s why there is pressure this time because I want them to react in the same way. Now, people have expectations from me. The trailer has been appreciated, so hopefully people will like it.
Would you like to become an actor?
No. Being an actor is a psycho job. You have to be psychologically disturbed to become an actor. You play so many characters, you are always conscious about what you are eating, and looking. I don't know when they sleep at night.
Being a director is brilliant. It's the second best job after being God because you get to create your own world and characters. You’re always in control.
What next after Tere Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?
I have signed two films.
Hume Aitraaz Hai, based on intolerance, has been written by me. It's a crazy, funny take on what is happening around us. I'm in the casting phase for this.
I cannot talk about the other story, but it's a beautiful one, with a satirical quality.