It was meant to be of the kids, by the kids and for the kids. And now Chillar Party (2011) has won three National Awards. Obviously, Vikas Bahl, co-director of the film, is on top of the world and dying to talk about it. Here’s a chat with the man.
Three National Awards for your first film — best children’s film, best original screenplay and best child artist for all your young stars. Which of these awards gives you the most satisfaction?
I am relieved that we lived up to the faith shown in the film by Salim Uncle (Salim Khan), Rajkumar (Hirani) sir, Salman (Khan), Ranbir (Kapoor) and Sohail (Khan). The fact that all the kids won the best child artist award is the most beautiful.
How unexpected was this?
I was completely clueless till my dad called me at 12 on March 7. By the time I finished talking to him, I had 17 missed calls.
How did the collaboration with Nitesh Tiwari, your co-director and co-writer of the film come about?
While writing, Nitesh and I never thought that we’d be directing the film. In fact, we were looking for a director. But somewhere we got possessive and couldn’t give it away, so we went ahead and directed it ourselves.
How did the idea for Chillar Party come about?
Chillar Party is probably from the days of the Mandal Commission. I was part of the anti-Mandal Commission forum when students brought the government down. We came up with the idea, lived with it and wrote it over two years. Also, I made the film for the love of my dog, Khan.
How easy or difficult was it to handle nine child artists? And how did you find so much talent?
Mukesh Chhabra, our casting director, found all of them. He auditioned over 6,000 kids. I would say it’s a myth that kids and dogs are difficult to work with. If you let them be, mould yourself to their tune and leave all of yourself back at home, it’s a great drive.
Any interesting nuggets of information about Chillar Party that no one knows about?
The Chillar Party gang had another girl who fractured her foot a day before the shoot. So her part had to be removed and Shaolin was created as a new character in the film. Also, Toothpaste’s original name was Pepsodent. The association didn’t work out so we changed the name. And Encyclopedia’s other name was Google.
Will there be a sequel to Chillar Party?
As of now, we only have the stories. Hopefully Nitesh and I will make it happen. The sequel is about getting Fatka and all his friends from the slum into a school.
Top five favourite screenplays
Chupke Chupke (1975)
Chak De (2007)
The Great Escape (1963)
Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006)
Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Top five favourite children’s movies
Mr India (1987)
Ice Age (2002)
Star Wars (1977)