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One of Bollywood's top designers turns director

Last updated on: July 13, 2017 09:59 IST

'This film can be taken to the world.'
'I don't think cinema needs a particular language to understand it...'
'Salman has given me everything I have.'
'Whatever I am today is because of him.'
'Hopefully, one day, I will direct a film with him.'

IMAGE: Mukta Barve, Trushnika Shinde and Nishtha Vaidya in Hrudayantar.

Vikram Phadnis's home in Bandra, north west Mumbai, is neat and well-decorated, as befitting one of the top fashion designers in the city and Bollywood.

Figures of Buddha and Ganpati as well as a cross find place in different corners of his home.

"I believe in God," Vikram says, "I'm a very, very strong believer, whether it is Jesus or Ganpati."

Vikram turns director with the Marathi film, Hrudayantar.

"I want your feedback after you've seen it," he tells Rediff.com's Jahnavi Patel.

Why did you choose to make your directorial debut with a Marathi film?

My Hindi film did not take off. I know no other language, so I re-wrote it in Marathi.

I had to do this subject; it's very close to my heart.

I have taken a lot of time to write it.

Were you always looking at directing films?

Yes, over the last 14, 15 years.

I never gave up and that's how this film happened.

That's a very long time.

Very, very, very, very long time!

Did you ever lose patience?

No. It was always deep inside me that I wanted to do this.

IMAGE: Vikram Phadnis with Amitabh Bachchan.

You are a successful fashion designer. Why did you think of direction?

Being a technician, I would watch films and want to write.

I wrote because I wanted to direct.

But I don't have that passion to write.

I don't read, I don't write. I feel too lazy and bored to do that.

Yet, I knew that if I don't write, I will not be able to make it.

I loved the process. I loved putting scenes together.

Then I got a screenplay writer on board and realised it was magical.

You have so many friends in the Hindi film industry. Did you ask them for support?

When I started writing my Marathi film, I didn't think I would have the support of the Hindi film industry.

I just started my film and then whatever support I got from the industry was beautiful and natural.

So it was organic.

I didn't think that I was making a Marathi film, where will the support come from?

IMAGE: Dia Mirza, Vikram Phadnis and Bipasha Basu at a fashion show. Photograph: Hitesh Harisinghani/Rediff.com

You were supposed to make a Hindi film, Nia, starring Bipasha Basu and Rana Dagubbati. Is this the same film?

Yes.

When Nia failed, it shattered me. But it also gave me strength to stand up again.

I was working on the subject for three years.

What went wrong with Nia?

I wanted to shoot in London, so we went there.

We did the recce, but it was not working out. We were not getting good facilities.

I went to Australia next and did a recce in Melbourne. But that did not happen either.

The film was becoming too expensive.

Ultimately, I enjoyed making it in Marathi.

I think this film can be taken to the world. It has subtitles.

I don't think cinema needs a particular language to understand it.

Was directing difficult?

Initially, I was nervous about how I would edit the shots and put everything together.

Then, I realised it's not that difficult if you hire a good technical crew.

I am a very planned person, even in fashion.

I conducted the film the way I conduct myself in fashion.

IMAGE: Subodh Barve and Mukta Barve in Hrudayantar.

Were you aware of Subodh Bhave and Mukta Barve, who star in your film?

No. I had just heard of their names; I knew they were the who's who in Marathi.

They came and met me. I lucked out on them.

When you see Hrudayantar, you will see what a brilliant performance they have given.

The little girls in the trailer look promising.

They are the stars of my film.

Hrudayantar is blessed. They have done an outstanding job.

Is the film looking the way you had visualised it?

Absolutely!

The way I wrote it is what it is today.

You assisted Kunal Kapoor (Shashi Kapoor's son). Did that experience help you?

Yes, making ad films did help me.

But that was years ago.

I think any experience, working anywhere, has helped me, not necessarily with Kunal Kapoor.

Everywhere I've worked, whatever I've done, whether it's my fashion shows or detaining my work at fashion, I think everything has added up to my work in Hrudayantar.

IMAGE: Mukta Barve and Hrithik Roshan in Hrudayantar.

Hrithik Roshan has a cameo in the film. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was present at the film's music launch. Why did you choose them in particular?

They have been my friends.

I wanted Aishwarya at the music launch. She has had some great music and songs in her life.

So for her to attend a music launch would have been great.

Hrithik has acted in the film. He wanted to attend the trailer launch, and I thought it was lovely.

Hrithik plays himself in the film, as do Maniesh Paul and Shiamak Davar.

Shah Rukh Khan was at the mahurat.

It was just lovely.

Friends encouraging you give you so much power and faith that your friends stand by you.

Salman Khan has been a dear friend too.

Salman has given me everything I have.

I have worked with him for 13 years. Whatever I am today is because of him.

Hopefully, one day, I will direct a film with him.

IMAGE: Mukta Barve, Subodh Barve, Trushnika Shinde and Nishtha Vaidya in Hrudayantar.

Marathi movies play on pure content. A designer directing a film -- will it add to the hype?

Yes, everyone is saying it's looking big.

Marathi films are simpler, so I hope (it adds to the hype).

People will see a lavishly mounted film.

I can't do a rural film. Just because it's a Marathi film doesn't mean it has to be desi and there have to be people wearing nauvari (nine yard) saris.

Which Bollywood star have you loved designing for?

I enjoyed working with Priyanka Chopra. Aishwarya was lovely.

Jahnavi Patel in Mumbai