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'Real love comes and goes'

April 27, 2024 13:29 IST

'What happened to Raj and Simran after running away on the train at the end of DDLJ 20 years later?'
'Have they become flatmates instead of lovers?'
'What happens when the initial chemistry has worn off and love becomes a habit?'
'This has always fascinated me.'

IMAGE: Vidya Balan and Pratik Gandhi in Do Aur Do Pyaar.

"I feel every marriage or relationship will have their own keys. But I feel, for a long lasting marriage, it's important to be friends, to talk, to fight, to be comfortable with each other," Do Aur Do Pyaar Director Shirsha Guha Thakurta tells Subhash K Jha.

"It's a very underrated romantic word: Comfort. You need to be each other's comfort food. Find your own Chicken 65."

She reveals her sources of inspiration: "It will sound cliched because I am Bengali, but Satyajit Ray, of course. The simplicity, beauty and humanity in his storytelling, agnostic of whatever the genre, will always be my biggest inspiration. Then Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Wong Kar Wai, Sam Mendes and Alexander Payne."

That entire chunk of the film where the married couple Kavya (Vidya Balan) and Ani (Pratik Gandhi) visit her home in Ooty is not in the original film Azazel Jacobs' The Lovers.

Says Shishra, "That's my favourite part of the film. That was the only part we could really open it up, have other characters, more fun, more music, before things became really messy back in the real world. The surroundings were beautiful, the actors and characters and the faces were lovely. It had so much flavour.

'Given a choice, I would stay in that world forever. In our heads, there was a separate movie in Ooty with Kavya and Ani's college romance and running away and the scandal in the Ganeshan household. We just didn’t show that to you."

The spoken lines by the four protagonists -- Vidya, Pratik, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Ileana D'Cruz -- are the best we have heard in years. Where did these wonderful words come from?

"All that is Suprotim Sengupta, Eisha Chopra and Amrita Bagchi, the writers," Shirsha says.

"Given that we wanted to make a very lived-in, real love story, they had the difficult job of writing dialogues that sounded real and everyday and yet, keep it engaging. Sometimes, the simplest things can sound so beautiful or funny. My favourite line is, 'Kabhi kabhi shayad pyaar kaafi nahin hota'. It's such a simple thought but so layered. That is the heart of our film. It goes against everything our films generally tell us: That it's all about falling in love, and once you are in love, it's absolute and forever. It is not."


IMAGE: Vidya, Pratik, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Ileana D'Cruz in Do Aur Do Pyaar.

Shirsha confesses she has always been interested in what happens to all those perfectly-in-love couples that we show in our films.

"What happened to Raj and Simran after running away on the train at the end of DDLJ 20 years later? Have they become flatmates instead of lovers? What happens when the initial chemistry has worn off and love becomes a habit? This has always fascinated me," she says.

"I see people around me struggling with this in our modern lives: To hold on to this Hallmark version of love, with so many distractions and social media.

"Real love is not a straight line: it's cyclical. It comes and goes. The songs and books have lied. So when my Producers Swati Iyer and Tanuj Garg brought this story to me, an adaptation of an independent American film called The Lovers, I jumped at the opportunity of telling a story of love which was more real. This was in 2020 just before COVID hit. It has taken four years to bring this story to you.

"I liked the one liner of the original film, but the movie itself was offbeat and culturally very different. The writers did a fantastic job of making the structural changes. I loved their idea of taking my protagonists Ani and Kavya back to her hometown to rekindle their chemistry. I loved the idea of them disrupting a funeral and not a wedding, which is the traditional Bollywood choice. It seemed more fun and fresh."


Photograph: Kind courtesy Shirsha Guha Thakurta/Instagram

The casting, agrees Shirsha, was magical.

"I got lucky. Vidya was the first choice. She brings a vulnerability, beauty and warmth to the role that no one else could have. You can't take your eyes off her. There is no lie in her fire. I don't think this film would happen without her.

"Pratik Gandhi is an absolute surprise and delight. He plays the Bengali nerd with such affection. We knew we had to cast someone who could hold his own against the acting powerhouse that Vidya is. Also, Ani's character would do things which audiences might construe as wrong. Ani shouldn't come across as someone smug and revelling in the adultery but actually be confused and messed up. Pratik nails that."

They dance together in the song, Bin Tere Sanam.

"It's such a catchy song. That was Suprotim's idea to use that song. He made us watch the original video in which the hero-heroine do strange dance moves in front of some malnourished cows. The producers and I knew straightaway we wanted those dance moves in our film. And Vidya and Pratik killed it!"

Shirsha felt Sendhil and Ileana also fit the bill perfectly.

"We knew we couldn't give them too much screen time, so they had to stand out," she says.

"Ani and Kavya were looking for things in Sendhil and Ileana that they couldn't find in each other anymore. We always thought of the four characters as an ensemble. They complemented each other.

"Kavya was vivacious and larger-than-life. Ani was sincere and laidback. Nora was neurotic and needy. Vikram was independent and hot. Most importantly, they had the same quality that Vidya and Pratik have -- they look and feel relatable.

"We feel for their story arcs as well, which was very important for the movie to work. They should seem credible threats to the marriage."