After garnering critical acclaim, the film picked up collections in the second week through word of mouth and is hailed as a cult film about relationships as seen through the male perspective. On the flip side, the filmmaker Luv Ranjan has been accused of being a misogynist by some.
He talks to Sudhish Kamath about the overwhelming response, the brickbats, the bouquets and the satisfaction of making a much-debated debut with six newcomers.
Q: Your film didn’t open really well but seems to have picked up?
A: It’s doing really well. The collections on Monday were better than the Friday it opened. And it steadied throughout the week and it’s dropped only by 24 per cent in the second week. It’s a huge hit in Punjab and doing well even in the smaller cities. Now getting into its third week, even with Ready set to release, we are doing above 60 per cent even on a weekday. There’s a huge repeat audience for the film as guys watch it together as a gang.
Q: You were mentioning this wasn’t technically your first script?
A: Yes, I had a script but the budget was higher to shoot that and I had to shoot in the Delhi winter. Time came when I realised that I would miss the winter deadline. Pyaar Ka Punchnama was a story idea I had earlier. Once I knew the winter film wasn’t happening, I worked on this script for two months. My only condition to the producer was that I will do it with new comers. The casting took six months and the music took seven months. So it wasn’t a film I made in a hurry.
Q: What was the central idea of what you wanted to do?
A: Basically, I wanted to make a comment on modern relationships. Not a serious comment but a tongue-in-cheek take on it. I found relationships to be very funny. So I wanted to show the funny side of it from the perspective of a man.
Q: Do you think it’s ok to show stereotypes of women in a genre that’s the anti-thesis of chick flicks infested with male stereotypes or are you saying that you haven’t shown stereotypes? You’ve been called a misogynist.
A: I don’t give a fuck! There are so many films that show men as cheaters. The problem is that in India, films have only shown one side of women. Just like there are bastards and there are nice guys, similarly in women there are nice women and the not so nice. Every heroine is the sati-savitri type and one who’s not is presented as a vamp. Why is Shashikala always the vamp and not the lead heroine? My next film is a romantic drama that explores the beauty and complexity of love in modern relationships. It’s not that every story I want to tell is anti-women. You take any Martin Scorsese film and see the portrayal of women in them. Is he a misogynist? Even politically, there are so many feminist groups that talk about women’s rights. But are there is domestic violence against men as well. Nobody talks about it because men feel ashamed to complain about being beaten up by women because there’s a social stigma attached to it. This is probably the first attempt to show men in a certain light and women is a certain light and some people are finding it a little difficult to accept. I am glad that it’s taken seriously and not just viewed as a light comedy film. I don’t want them to agree with me. I am a success if I start a debate.
Q: Your film is certainly more Woody Allen than Suneel Darshan who you started off assisting.
A: I assisted Suneel Darshan in 2003-2005 in three films – Barsaat, Mere Jeevan Saathi and Dosti… all hardcore commercial films. Sanjay Bhansali was Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s assistant. You only learn the craft from them, the art is all yours. Since I’m a newcomer and am expected to mention someone as an influence, I have to name Woody. The way he is able to look at relationships in a cynical but funny way. But I am my own filmmaker. I spent three months in the New York Film Academy to brush up my writing skills, traveled around the world – London, US, Chennai – just writing. I spent two years writing a film that I designed completely but I don’t have the tendency to pitch to many producers or studios because it ruins the equation. I like to shoot films my way even if it’s going to take time. You have to be patient to do that. I will always be possessive about creative independence, why is why I can’t work with stars. I don’t even let actors come to the monitor and see the shot.
Q: You found Kartik, one of your leads, on Facebook.
A: Yes, I found Kartik through Facebook and he was so nervous getting photographed that when the producers saw him, they thought he wouldn’t be right. A month later, I called my stylist and showed the producer the pictures. He liked him this time without even knowing it was the same boy. I then did a four-month workshop with him. He also did acting and dance classes.
Q: How did you arrive on your five-minute monologue that seems to be a hit with the audience?
A: The scene was that this guy Chaudhary had to ask the other what’s he fighting with his girlfriend for? When I started writing what the problem was, I couldn’t stop. When I completed, I realised it was four pages. It flowed well and I thought we haven’t even seen a monologue like this, so let me shoot it in one shot. It will send across the frustration of the boy in a humourous way. It wasn’t planned that way.
Q: You had some disagreements with your publicists?
When we started promotions of the film, I had to fight with the producers and publicists that I do NOT want to put any shot of kissing in the trailer. I said I will not put in the bikini shots in the trailer. Even an Anurag Kashyap today feels the need to promote Shaitan with a kiss between two girls. I don’t want to support that trend. In fact of not getting an opening, my film has worked purely on merit. This is a message that needs to go out. You don’t need sex and controversy when your film has merit.
Q: Started work on the other film you wrote?
I’m still working on the PR for this film and will start with the next in the next two weeks. Have tentatively called it Saathi. I like to design the whole film including the music. I have written all but one song in PKP and also composed Kutta.