He is considered as one of the most talented writer-directors in the Hindi film industry, but Abbas Tyrewala of Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na fame says everything about him is "wacky".
"Different things come naturally to different people. I've a bit of Woody Allen in me. Honestly, I never knew how Jaane Tu... would turn out. The problem was not whether people would like Imran Khan. The problem was: would they respond to such a non-violent pacifist hero?
"The best message I got after Jaane Tu... was from A R Rahman. He said this film would open many doors for me. And it did," Tyrewala told IANS.
Tyrewala, who started his career as a lyricist and made his mark as a screenwriter and dialogue writer with Maqbool and Munnabhai M.B.B.S., has gone back to his roots. He was in Chennai recently to write the Hindi lyrics for AR Rahman's score for the soundtrack of Boys.
"This is the first time I've done something like this, convert Tamil songs that are huge hits into Hindi for the dubbed version. The trick is not to translate the original words - which I couldn't anyway because I don't know Tamil - but to go with the flow and rhythm," said Tyerewala.
But writing lyrics was never a serious vocation for him.
"I did it as a passion and hobby. I wrote songs for Ram Gopal Varma's Love Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, E. Niwas' Dum and Hansal Mehta's Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar. My lyrics were quite wacky. That characterises everything I deal with, including my finances," he said.
His maiden directorial venture was a huge hit, but he reveals that he wanted to cast Farhan Akhtar in Jaane Tu...
"At that time I didn't know Farhan was seriously interested in acting. I wanted to cast him in the role of Sushant (played by Ayaz Khan), the debonair, slightly arrogant character. Then when I heard Farhan was seriously interested in acting and doing leads, I banished the thought. I think all writers-turned-directors would make good actors. Me? I'd also act well if cast well, in a wacky role."
Tyrewalla was taken aback when girls rushed towards him for a photo at a mall in Chennai.
"These two girls came up to me for a picture. We've had much bigger hits, but somewhere people have connected with Jaane Tu... The place I'm in today comes from my having the intelligence to ignore Ram Gopal Varma years ago when I was writing a film called Ek for him. He told me to change my name because he found my name to be too bizarre to be taken seriously as a writer. I stuck to my name. It's a difficult name and a difficult face to forget."
The era of star-directors seems to be upon us.
"Before Karan Johar there were Sooraj Barjatya and Aditya Chopra. The only reason they weren't stars is because they were reclusive. These were the first directors whose names were bigger than the actors. Then there was Ramu. But the culmination of this trend is Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
"With due respect, he isn't a recluse like Sooraj Barjatya or Adi Chopra. These guys stayed away from the limelight because they wanted the film to be bigger than them. Sanjay is very clear he wants his name to be as big as his cinema. I'm turning co-producer with my next film because I want to own my own films," Tyrewala said.
A lot of writers don't succeed that well as directors.
"That's because they give a playwright's touch to their dialogue-baazi. I'm completely involved with the cinematic medium. Jaane Tu... is my most commercial film. Now I want to march to my own drum beat."
The young filmmaker feels he has been considered an avant-garde writer for long.
"Do you know Munnabhai M.B.B.S. was originally meant to be a Rs.15 million film with Om Puri in the lead? Fortunately, Vinod Chopra saw something in it."