Shakun Batra’s (below) Kapoor & Sons starring Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra and Fawad Khan became one of the highlights of 2016. The director says that his work was reduced, owing to the talented star cast. “With talents like these, you need very little direction,” he says, adding, “I don’t believe in directing too much. I like to approach actors as my friends. I think that’s important. It’s easier to work with people that way. I believe the key is great casting. If you cast the right actors, your work is easier.”
Shakun has worked with both, newcomers as well as established artistes. He launched Imran Khan in Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na (2008) and worked with Kareena Kapoor Khan in Ek Mein Aur Ekk Tu (2012). The director says even though it is exciting to work with newcomers, established actors bring in a certain “value” to the film. “They also pull the audiences to theatres. However for me, it depends on the story. I don’t have a preference as such [between newcomers and well-known actors]”
Many Indian actors such as Irrfan Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Deepika Padukone have collaborated with film-makers from the West. Shakun believes that this phenomenon is the way forward and that such collaborations are taking place within the Hindi film industry as well.
“I believe that the industry is going through a transition. Many producers as well as actors-cum-producers are collaborating to make movies. Karan [Johar] and I collaborated on two projects (Ek Mein Aur Ekk Tu and Kapoor & Sons) and I believe, creatively, we were happy about it,” says Shakun.
Watch: Pappu Can’t Dance from Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na
However, do Indian directors get equal opportunities to explore international projects like Indian actors do? “It’s a tough transition to make, but it’s not like it hasn’t happened,” says Shakun, adding, “Mira Nair and Shekhar Kapur’s works have been influential in the West. It all boils down to the films you do and the connect you have with the world.”
Watch: Kar Gayi Chull from Kapoor and Sons
Aping the West, Bollywood, has also adapted books into films such as Haider (2014) and 2 States (2014). Shakun says that this trend doesn’t hamper the original stories that are being written. “I’m not against adaptations. I don’t think they harm those writing original stories; it’s the lack of investment, finances, time and effort [that harms the writer]. I believe writers should get their due. They should be able to write more, knowing that they are going to be paid well,” he points out.