Good Luck Jerry director Siddharth Sen says 'people are absolutely bashing Hindi cinema' now: 'It’s happening too much'
Filmmaker Siddharth Sen talked about his film Good Luck Jerry, working with Janhvi Kapoor and cancel culture in Bollywood with Hindustan Times.
Director Siddharth Sen’s first official Bollywood film Good Luck Jerry has brought all the good luck for him. Starring Janhvi Kapoor in the lead, the dark crime comedy is the remake of Nayanthara’s hit Tamil film Kolamaavu Kokila. During a conversation with Hindustan Times, a happy Sidharth reflected upon the film's positive critical reviews and said, “Since it's my first film I was nervous and scared. Phew!.” (Also read: Good Luck Jerry’s Jaswant Singh Dalal says he 'wasn’t sure about Janhvi Kapoor at first')
Siddharth started his journey in films under Dibakar Banerjee on Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and made his directorial debut with The Great Escape. According to Siddharth, Good Luck Jerry has reminded his friends of Dibakar’s style, naturally. But, did Dibakar see his film? He laughed and answered, “No! I don’t think he has time. I will ask him after a while.”
Good Luck Jerry released amid the raging Bollywood vs South debate. He weighed in, “It has become a task to deliver a good film as the thought process of the audience has changed. Post the release, the way the media behaved toward our film was very surprising. The critics can give left, right and centre to a film, if not good. But, it happened quite the opposite for us. When you see the audience talking about the film on Twitter, Facebook, or Insta, it makes you even happier. Nowadays people can troll a film very easily online.”
Good Luck Jerry released on Disney+ Hotstar instead of a theatrical release. So, what’s more important for the director—critical acclaim or good business? “The whole game changes when it comes to OTT. If compared, I would say, I care for both. I want to do mindful films and not mindless films.”
The Janhvi Kapoor-starrer faced comparisons with the original 2018 film. “I and my writer, Pankaj Matta always talked about it. We wanted to have a different take. I’m very happy that people have taken it positively. People have called it absolutely different from the original,” the director reasoned, adding, “In our case, I think there will always be a section of people who will compare but I think it’s good that it didn’t happen too much to us. The time we are in, people are absolutely bashing Hindi cinema. It’s happening too much. In the middle of it, if your film is released, of course you will have the constant fear: Will people will bash your film too? Now I can't see the comparison at all. Somehow we managed to make a good film, maybe that’s why it didn’t happen to us.”
Last week, Hrithik Roshan lauded the Good Luck Jerry team with a special mention to Deepak Dobriyal. Reacting to it, Siddharth revealed, “I was pleasantly surprised. It was out of the blue. This is very good. When people from the industry are watching your film and posting a tweet, you must have done something good. Suresh Triveni, Anurag Basu, Tahira Kashyap and others messaged me directly.”
“In the south, the film has Nayanthara, you can put a film on her shoulder because she is a big star. When we started with Janhvi, we wanted to change the main lead to a younger and vulnerable character; but at the same time, we created more interesting characters. Each had its back story. We wanted everyone to perform very well. It made Janhvi perform very well. The audience has picked their favourite character from the film. Someone like Janhvi (Jerry), Deepak (Rinku), Sahil (Jigar), Jaswant (Timmy), Samta (Cheery), Mita (Sharbati), and Sushant Singh (Daler),” he said, talking about the film's cast, whom critics have also praised.
Good Luck Jerry has established Janhvi on the acting front. How is Janhvi as an actor, beyond her filmy background? The director answered with a smile, “She is a perfect director’s actor. She is as good as a filmmaker. Always looking for something from the director, she was always very cautious and curious on the sets. She was always adding something extra to the scene.”
Siddharth also revealed how Janhvi wasn’t sure about picking up a Bihari accent for the film. “I told her if she is thinking about it then she can definitely do it. She went to 30-35 classes, she had to listen to Bhojpuri songs. I remember she told me that during the phase she went for an audience when the director told her ‘why are you acting so Bihari? why are you talking like someone from UP/ Bihar’. She was completely into it and on the sets, she was completely talking in that lingo.”
Good Luck Jerry was shot in phases after the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic in India. With a limited number of crew members, it was shot in the remote areas of Bassi Pathana in Punjab. Recalling the experience, Janhvi previously shared how she felt intimidated initially. To this, the director made her spend more time on the sets, even when it wasn’t her turn to face the camera.
Explaining the thought behind the process, Siddharth said, “It was, more importantly, to get her comfortable with the surroundings of the place where we shot. When she visited the set before the shoot, I told her ‘see you are Janhvi Kapoor, you have a vanity van outside, you can go there as many times you want. I would say just spend more time on set because you don’t belong to this world.’ She might have read the script or learnt the language but she hardly knew anything about the lifestyle of the rural place. On the first day, she was reading the script while sitting on the street. I first thought she did it because the director asked her but throughout the shoot, she remained like that. By the time we finished the film, she learned carrom, magic tricks, and playing cards; She rode an auto-rickshaw. She ate anywhere, and slept on monitor tables after her shots got delayed. That’s how she became comfortable. She had a great bonding with all the actors.”
Good Luck Jerry is among the few safe films which didn’t face any calls of boycott amid the ongoing debate about cancel culture in Bollywood. Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha and Akshay Kumar’s Raksha Bandhan trended on Twitter with hashtags calling for boycotts. When asked about it, as a newcomer director, Siddharth added, “I might be a first-timer but I don’t shy away to say that it’s ridiculous. For the people who are doing it, I think they have too much time. There are so many things in this world other than a cinema. You have all the time to only boycott a particular film. You pull out an old tweet and say don’t watch to others, I am finding it very absurd, sorry. I saw a video where everyone is saying boycott Laal Singh Chaddha, but why? I don’t see a reason. I don’t understand. The world is going through sh**.”
He continued, “This industry sadly has always and will always get love. It’s just because of the love, we get hatred too. People love to know everything about the stars. Social media has brought their lives upfront. Earlier, it used to be only in magazines. People now just love to comment. They are vocal and can say anything without a thought. Frustration is also there, I think. Bashing Bollywood will at least give them the limelight or else why will anyone read? Stars are the targets all the time.”
So, what’s next for Siddharth? He said, “Will start something sooner. I am trying to move on from Good Luck Jerry because it’s done. Someone called me the ‘hope for Bollywood’, I think it’s too much! Maybe they are just happy to see a Bollywood film working. We had films like Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, now Darlings, which did great.”