With her latest film Dil Dhadakne Do hitting the bull’s eye at the box office, filmmaker
has reaffirmed her position in Bollywood. However, the 42-year-old says, "It (the praise) hasn’t sunk in yet."
director talks about her inspirations, the influx of women in Bollywood and more.
Hrithik Roshan wants you to make the sequel to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD; 2011). Has he told you that?
Yes, all of them [who acted in the film] have. ZNMD is a special film. I don’t want to make a sequel just because it was a hit. When I feel I have something meaningful to say, I will make it.
Most of your films have had ensemble casts. How do you manage the big stars?
Every film is difficult, but the biggest thing with an ensemble cast is that it can become a bit tiring. You have so many actors to deal with, and that many narrations and briefings to do. But it’s great fun.
As a director, isn’t it taxing to handle them all?
All the ‘starry’ stuff is handled by the producers. And although all the people in my new film are stars, but at the core, they are just actors, who want to do well. So, I didn’t have a hard time.
In Dil Dhadakne Do, Ranveer Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra play siblings. Did you take some real-life inspiration for that?
and Priyanka were very similar to my relationship with Farhan (Akhtar; brother-actor-film-maker) because we are very close. But besides that, I am blessed to have been brought up in a house, where we were treated equally.
Watch Dil Dhadakne Do review
There are very few women directors in Bollywood. Is it because there is a perception that they can’t handle the job?
If given a chance, women can handle the planet. Just that they have had a late start in Bollywood. So, it has been a men’s club. But the influx of women in the Hindi film industry is insane. It means people are getting work, their ideas are getting picked up, they are being accepted, and they are going to do well. It’s going to be different in 10 years.
Do you make an extra effort to keep the characters of your film real?
When I make a film, I look at every character compassionately. You can’t have one-dimensional people as no human being is like that. People are vulnerable; they have weaknesses as well as likability. And as a filmmaker, you have to find that balance.
Some say that your films are usually about affluent people. Is this owing to your own background?
I am blessed to have parents that I have. But they don’t direct my films. I work really hard. So, such a perception is sad. Fifty per cent of my work, till date, hasn’t been about rich people, but no one watched them. Why? I find it weird that in Indian cinema, your story might be set anywhere, but you cut to Switzerland or Greece for a song or a few scenes, and no one says anything. As long as we keep it in the fantastical zone, it’s acceptable. I haven’t been able to negotiate it.
Your latest release touches upon gender equality and women empowerment…
Reema (Kagti; writer) and I wanted to do an intrinsic family drama with a brother-sister story at the core. What’s completely dysfunctional is that you treat a son differently from a daughter. So, it was interesting to pick it up, and put it out to the world that’s supposedly educated, moneyed and well-travelled. And look at what’s going around us. It would be weird if we don’t reflect our reality in our work.
Talking of remuneration, many actresses feel that they should be paid on par with male actors.
It’s a box-office call. Having said that, I think the ratio is heavily skewed towards male actors, and needs to be balanced out. For instance, if you take a big love story, you can’t negate the actress. So, you need to pay the actresses more, for sure.
Do your parents ever ask you to settle down?
No, my parents want me to be happy, healthy and safe. They would love me to have a companion and kids if I want, but they would love me to do what I want.