Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra is garnering praise for his short film, which is part of a social awareness campaign, Art of Saving a Life, commissioned by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In a chat, he talks about the short film, his friends in the industry, and more.
Do you have friends in the industry, and do you keep in touch with them?
I do, as and when time permits. Gulzar bhai is my neighbour, so we find a reason to be in touch. I exchange messages with Amitji (Bachchan) once in a while. On my birthdays, I get the first call from him, even if my family or even I forget about it. Aamir (Khan) is like a soulmate, so he is always there for me. (AR) Rahman is an inspiration. Although he keeps travelling across the globe, it’s amazing to see how he keeps in touch with people who he cares for. And I have just found new friends in Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy.
What inspired you to direct the short film, The Girl Who Kicked The Ball?
While growing up in Delhi, I would go out to play, as there were a lot of open spaces. However, there were some kids who couldn’t join in. They would walk differently and wouldn’t get an opportunity to be like us. It seemed that they lost out on their childhood. I think it’s a miracle that polio has been eradicated from the world now. So there is no kid who misses a game of football or the thrill of cycling.
But you were also making your next Bollywood film at the same time?
Strangely, when the offer came to me, I somehow found the time to make it. The short film had to be launched this January, and they offered it to me around June-July last year. I was planning to shoot my movie from September. I was also in the middle of writing, pre-production, music recording, casting, wardrobe selection, etc, for it. So, there was a lot of pressure. Initially, I thought, I should just excuse myself. But saying no didn’t come to me. You can call it the greed or selfishness to be part of such a project (the short film).
Your films seem to be influenced by your personal life.
Everyone has their own way of expressing themselves, and how they relate to a certain subject. I am a Delhi boy who has grown up in a middle-class family, so I could never relate to a few things like non-resident Indians. I could only relate to what’s happening in our country. Even my next is a story that I heard in college. So, my job is to make it contemporary and try to understand what romance is all about.
Is there any pressure on you for your next, as you are launching newcomers, and one of them is a star kid?
When you have to go out and play the game, you have to forget about the pressure. I have learnt from my gurus that you have to work hard and keep doing what you know best. We have finished the shoot, and it has been a thrilling experience. There’s always so much to learn. I have learnt from Amitji, Aamir, Rahman, Farhan (Akhtar), my mentor Gulzar bhai and now, I am learning from newcomers.
What made you cast newcomers, Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher, in your next?
I have always believed in casting for the film once I am completely happy with the script. This script demanded three newcomers. They had to bring out three different perspectives of love in the film.