Ayushmann is my senior. So, I should really deserve to direct him: Tahira Kashyap
Author Tahira Kashyap, who turns a director with a short film, Toffee, says she is “very excited” about her film-making debut.bollywood Updated: Oct 13, 2017 22:06 IST
She is an accomplished author with books such as I Promise and Souled Out to her credit. Now, Tahira Kashyap, who is actor Ayushmann Khurrana’s wife, dons the director’s avatar as she helms a short film, Toffee that has been produced by Ayushmann and casting director Mukesh Chhabra. Herein, she talks about her inspirations, life, husband Ayushmann and more.
How excited, happy or nervous are you?
I am very excited. I think I was waiting for it (smiles). It’s a beautiful space to be in and I really want to take this further as I like the job profile that I have as a script writer and a director. I have always loved writing but be it writing or theatre - staging and directing plays - I always took it up as a side job and a passion. The day I realised that this is what I really loved, I was like, ‘God, this is what I wanted to do.’ So the day I took that decision, I made Toffee.
Is a full length feature film next in line?
I have written a few [scripts] and I am in talks [with people]. Things might happen but it’s too early to say anything about it. I want to explore this space further and so, let’s see where my journey goes.
Do you and Ayushmann discuss work with each other?
Yes, absolutely. He is the first person I narrate everything that I write. For instance, I have written three scripts which he has read. I am like the censor board at home (laughs). I have read all his scripts and they have gone via me. I can proudly say that (smiles). We started out as friends and I am really happy to say that we are friends before being husband-wife. So we can bluntly say anything to each other. That’s the kind of relationship we share. We are very blunt, honest and upright when it comes to professional work.
How did you get the idea for Toffee?
This issue has always very close to heart because I saw it happening in front of my own eyes. As a child, for summer vacations, I used to go to a small town, Basti Sheikh in Jalandhar where my maternal grandparents stayed. It was the 90s, so there was no Facebook, social media or Google, television but incessant power cuts. The only way to have fun was step out of the house and so, I made a friend, Ritu and it didn’t matter from which class or society she came from. The idea was to just have fun.
So, all the major details come from your own life?
Yes, to a large extent. Ritu’s daily chore included wrapping toffees to help her earn Rs 100, which would be a support to her family. So instead of feeling bad or having my heart wrenched, all that I wanted to do was wrap toffees with her and get out of the house to have a great time with her. So this movie rides high on nostalgia, and it’s like a trip down the memory lane. I am a 90s kid so you will also see a lot of references to that.
Then, what happened to her?
I lost Ritu to child marriage but something recently happened that triggered off that memory and I really wanted to address the issue and put across the story of two beautiful girls.
You are an accomplished writer. Then, what made you think of turning this story it into a short film?
I enjoy all these mediums. Besides writing, a part of me has always been into theatre as I have directed my own scripts in Chandigarh as well as Delhi. It’s a completely different feeling to see your characters actually coming to life and out of the book and bring a whole lot of emotions. I am delighted and thrilled to have explored the medium. I was all jittery and nervous on the sets but somehow, I knew what I wanted to say and what my characters have to do.
As writers, you can write leisurely but as a director, there is a length and time constraint…
But it’s a beautiful challenge; I wouldn’t call it an obstacle because you can use 10 lines to explain a character raising an eyebrow but on screen, it’s just an expression of an actor and that really excites me since every actor has a different way of expressing. I am very fascinated by human beings. Even Toffee has got a lot to do with human emotions. You can say that I am obsessed with the human brain (laughs).
Was direction always on your mind?
Honestly, I could never wrap my head around it. So, at times, I felt it’s too late and then I was like, ‘what if my husband’s reputation comes down if I make a stupid movie (laughs).’ I don’t think the universe sends out these messages but that’s a self-imposed restriction. Also, I come from a very padhaku (studious) atmosphere with my mother being an educationist and my father being a journalist.
You have also been teaching mass communication. Right?
I have been a biotechnology student myself and a mass media lecturer too. So I have always taken writing and theatre as a side job and as a passion. I never knew I could make it my career. But for the last two years, all I have been doing is writing because I decided this is what I want to do. This is what brings happiness to me and whenever I write something, I always vision it. When I write something, I actually see the characters doing the same thing in real life.
Did you ever feel any pressure of being Ayushmann’s wife when you decided to take up direction?
As I said it was all a self-imposed restrictions, but sometimes, it does play on your mind that you don’t want to put the other person’s reputation at stake but you also need to give yourself some respect. I am so glad that I am out of that nascent stage of life but I think it was a learning experience. You are own person so once you start treating yourself as an individual and as a separate entity, the world also sees that.
What is less taxing – film-making or writing?
Honestly, since everything is absolutely new, so I am very excited about it and nothing looks taxing (smiles). I am looking forward to more writing and making more movies. But yes, books take a longer time, at least for me. Movies also require a certain kind of time. So, both are in their own space and I don’t find either of them taxing at all. I am looking forward to doing it more.
Any plans to work with Ayushmann?
In our personal space, we may be equals but in the professional space, he is my senior. So, I should deserve to direct him (smiles). When I write my scripts, I don’t constrict my characters to particular actors because everyone comes with their own personality. Only once my characters are etched out or when my story is ready do I think of whoever would be able to do justice to it. At least, that’s what I think right now. I don’t know what would happen two or three years later.
But as a director, wouldn’t you be keen to team up with Ayushmann?
He is a brilliant actor and I am not talking as his wife. In fact, when he did his couple of first movies, I knew he could do better. I am his biggest critic so I told him, ‘you haven’t done a good job’, but he was like, ‘but I am getting awards.’ But I knew he could do better. I think he has grown tremendously to become a fine actor and it would be a privilege to work with him. I don’t know what space we will be in [if we work together] and who will shout at whom (laughs) but as an actor – and not as a husband -- it would be a pleasure to work together. He is a dream actor for a director, and good actor makes life easier.
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