She jokes about taking to direction in the belief that calling the shots is not a lot of work. But now that Ashima Chibber is in the director's chair, she understands how tough life can get.
However, that hasn't got the young girl complaining, who is currently in Chandigarh to shoot for her debut film, Mere Dad Ki Maruti, a Y-Films production, which is Yash Raj Film's youth films studio. Darshan Aulakh Productions, a local production house, is handling the production of the movie.
While PGI was one of the designated spots for the shoot, HT City spotted the film's director, Ashima Chibber, at another locale, Stop & Stare in Sector 10, Chandigarh, where the cast had assembled for a lunch break.
At the onset, Ashima is happy to divulge her city connection, where she spent all her summer holidays at her relatives' abode. The Hyderabad-girl says she decided Chandigarh was a perfect locale for her film, since 'it hasn't been discovered much by filmmakers'. "It looks too modern on one hand, but is also placid," says Ashima.
Her love for direction, reveals Ashima, grew when she was studying media at Cambridge, UK. "There, I got to meet a lot of directors, since it was a part of our course. At the time, I believed that a director's life is not bad, since all that he or she is expected to do is sit on a chair and issue orders. I learnt later that life is too tough. Then, I did a course in filmmaking to understand things better."
Ashima got a good headstart in the practical field, when she assisted Shimit Amin when he was directing critically acclaimed film, Ab Tak Chappan and later, Chak De India. "I have served as an assistant director for movies including Pyar Ke Side Effects, Kites and Rockstar and learnt from the best of directors. Once I decided to wear the director's hat, various producers offered to budget my work, but I was keen to work with the Yash Raj banner. Who wouldn't be?"
Her film, Mere Dad Ki Maruti, is a comedy, about which Ashima shares, "I always knew my genre was going to be comedy. Life is a comedy and humour is a part of day-to-day life. The story revolves around a boy who steals his father's new car to impress his girlfriend and what follows thereafter." The film stars newcomers Saqib Saleem and Riya Chakravarty, and the director says this was consciously done since 'it's a youth-driven culture.'
We can't help asking the obvious, did Mumbai and the industry treat a woman director well? "It's been seven years since I have been in Mumbai. It takes a lot of conviction to take such a decision that demands a lot of sacrifice. Though the profession seems like it needs rebels, but it's actually very structured," shares Ashima, and then adds, "For a long time when I was assisting directors, I thought I had no job to do," tells Ashima.
In all her honesty, Ashima has reason to be proud of herself for debuting with none less than Yash Raj Films from amongst a million budding directors.
Mere Dad Ki Maruti is a Yash Raj Films' youth films studio film, and in keeping with the theme, stars two youngsters in the lead. Delhi boy Saqib Saleem, the film's male actor, started his career as a model and has previously done Mujhse Fraaandship Kaorge; while Riya Chakravarty, the female lead, belongs to an army family and has been a VJ with MTV for the past three years.
While Saqib's stint as a model for prestigious brands such as Pepsi and Tata Sdocomo helped in his recognition, Riya says she auditioned to bag a Yash Raj film for two years before being cast for one. She previously shot some MTV shows such as MTV Wassup, Fantastic 5 and Gone in 60 seconds. She has also shot for a south-Indian film.