“At 22, I was idealistic and brash when I reviewed films... ”: Shakun Batra
At 22, where were you career-wise?
I had my first film-work experience as a director’s assistant on Don (2006), and I was in a state of pure bliss. I had just returned from Vancouver Film School.
And the money situation...?
I was earning ₹9,000 per month after TDS, and my share of the rent was ₹5,000. On one occasion, I was so broke, I kept watching the fare meter on my rickshaw to check if I had enough money to reach my residence.
Was there any romance in the air?
I started dating an older girl who was also part of the crew. I remember thinking: This is the life. But our love story fizzled out.
What was your focus in life then?
I was extremely passionate about cinema and I knew I would hustle my way in. I would work 15 hours a day and still show up the next morning, bright and eager.
What was your mindset like?
I was idealistic. At 22, I was brash when I reviewed films; now I know the hard work that goes into filmmaking.
What was your fashion sense like?
I bought copy clothes from export-surplus stores in Bandra. I largely wore shorts and unironed T-shirts.
What did you do for fitness?
Thankfully, I had a high metabolism, and was thin and lanky. Also, I would run.
Tell us about your family.
My family was in Delhi while I was sharing a rented apartment in Mumbai with my closest friend from college, Karan. Three other friends – Guru, Nitya and Rohit Dhawan – were like family. And there was Ayesha, who I met on the sets of Don… she writes all my films.
Tell us your most embarrassing memory from that time.
They made me play the paanwallah in the Khaike Paan Banaraswala song. If ever there was a king of ham, it would be me.
From HT Brunch, January 17, 2021
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