While the critical acclaim and box office success of Ishaqzaade has National Award-winning director Habib Faisal on a high, at the moment, he seems pretty excited by a recent article. “A newspaper headline used my film’s title, reading ‘High Court passes order to reunite Ishaqzaades’. The term Ishaqzaade and what the film is about, has become metaphoric.” The director talks about life after his first commercial hit.
What’s next after Ishaqzaade?
Right now, I am in a no-man’s-land. I’m celebrating and trying to figure out whether I want to write a script for another director or for my next project. I wrote Band Baaja Baarat (BBB, 2010) after directing Do Dooni Chaar (DDC, 2010). Finishing a directorial project and then writing for someone else’s vision gives me clarity and prevents boredom.
Describe your transition from shooting documentaries to feature films.
After failing to get through medical entrance exams, I enrolled for an undergraduate course in Zoology. At college, I became interested in theatre, so after a year, I switched to a literature course at Jamia Millia (Delhi). Then, I went to Illinois to study film direction. But once there, I got hooked to doing camera work.
You returned and worked with NDTV for a long time. Does that experience of shooting news features influence your films?
I shot hardcore news features for five years, which helped me learn a lot about our country. Covering the simple but strenuous life of people living in Bastar (Chattisgarh) and doing stories in Kashmir was part of my everyday life. Now I write instinctively. My experience as a cameraperson helps me write visual stories, where characters and their spaces are looked at in detail. I haven’t consciously thought of doing reality-based stories. I may also do a science-fiction film someday.
How did the transition from camera work to writing scripts happen?
It happened by accident. I'd studied script writing, but had never written. After my news channel stint, I, along with Tigmanshu Dhulia, assisted on Electric Moon (short film, 1987). One of the pilots I made for TV got approved. While I was directing it, I would tweak the stock phrases and stock dialogues that the TV writers would send me to make them more believable. The writer in me was born around then. I met Aditya Chopra during Bunty Aur Babli (2005). Salaam Namaste (2005) was my first Bollywood writing project. After that, three of the seven scripts I wrote got made into films. One of them, filmmaker Jahnu Barua’s Har Pal, is yet to release.
How did DDC happen? What were the biggest challenges while making the film?
Disney released DDC. Getting finance to shoot wasn’t a struggle, but we didn’t have a huge marketing budget. Thankfully, the film found its audience and a National Award. Writing BBB was an extension to that film. I started it with the premise that if Duggal’s (Rishi Kapoor in DDC) daughter was to fall in love, what would her love story be?