After spending close to a decade in the advertising industry, filmmaker Amit Sharma made his directorial debut with the Arjun Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha starrer Tevar (2015). Though the movie did not set the cash registers jingling at the box-office, critics praised Sharma for his craft. After 3 years since the release of his debut flick, Sharma returns with his new directorial offering Badhaai Ho which revolves around a young working man and his 51-year-old pregnant mother. The trailer of the forthcoming quirky comedy was unveiled a couple of weeks ago, which garnered incredibly overwhelming response from the audience. Ahead of its release, our Mumbai correspondent, Mohnish Singh, catches up with the director and talks about a lot of things ranging from Badhaai Ho, its ensemble cast and, of course, his next movie with superstar Ajay Devgn.
Check out what he had to say below.
How did Badhaai Ho happen?
A one-line idea came to me about a 51-year-old mother getting pregnant and I really got excited about it and jumped on my writers to develop it further. That’s how it all happened.
So the film is not based on some real-life incident, right?
No. But when you hear something like this, you immediately start relating it to other things that you have heard or experienced in your life. My grandmother and my grandmother’s mother were pregnant at the same time. So there are many characters in the film who are slightly inspired by people from my own family.
This is also a very serious issue, at the same time. How did you come about deciding that you would deal with it in a funny, humorous way only?
Frankly speaking, it would have been suicidal for the core essence of the subject if I had treated it in a serious and sombre way. Its brilliance lies in the funny side of the subject. You know how neighbours and relatives gossip endlessly if something like this happens in real life! I strongly believed it should be done in a funny film else no one is interested in watching a serious drama.
As an audience, we all are going to laugh our lungs out at the expense of the characters as their life is screwed. There is this boy who is of marriageable age. He has a girlfriend. So what will happen to him when he comes to know that her mother is expecting another baby? I think that’s where the fun lies. I could not find a better way to tell this story than presenting it in a quirky and funny way.
The casting of your film looks very promising. How did you manage to pull it off?
Every filmmaker wants to work with actors who are powerful and talented. I am lucky that so many talented actors are associated with my film. I feel blessed that they all agreed to do the movie. I believe it all happened just because we had a taut, powerful script in hand. Whomsoever I narrated the script to, be it Neenaji, Gajrajji, Ayushmann, Sanya or Surekhaji, everyone agreed to do in the first go. They all were so excited that they wanted to start shooting for it right away. So that way, I feel I was very lucky to have a script like this and the actors who are part of the movie.
Were you, at any given point in time, hesitant about taking up such a quirky subject as your next film?
No, not at all! I come from the advertising background. We keep working on quirky ideas. We are always looking for quirky ideas. So when this idea came to me, I felt people would like to listen to this. They would like to watch it onscreen. Once I was convinced, it did not pay much heed to anything else. Badhaai Ho is a very clean film. There is not a speck of vulgarity in it. It’s not slapstick. It’s very real.
A couple of months ago, Neena Gupta had shared a post on Instagram writing she was looking for work, because not many people were approaching her with good roles. Is her casting in Badhaai Ho anything to do with that Instagram post?
No. It has nothing to do with that post because I was not on Instagram back then, so I knew nothing about it. I was not on any social media platform back then. I joined them recently. I had not read that post. I got to know about the same much later when we were shooting for the film. She herself shared it that she had posted something on Instagram after which she started receiving some work. I have strictly told her that after Badhaai Ho, she would not do any run-of-the-mill roles. Her forthcoming roles have to be powerful.
What are your box-office expectations from Badhaai Ho?
It really does not matter. Frankly speaking, I don’t make feature films because I am burdened with monthly instalments for my house, car, etc. I am making films, because I love making films, telling stories. So I have enjoyed one year of my life which I spent on the making of this film. Talking about box-office expectations, people have loved the trailer and now I want them to come and watch the film in theatre. I haven’t made the film for myself. I want people to come and watch it. If they like the film, word of mouth will take it forward.
Do you think this is the best phase for Bollywood because filmmakers have started exploring a lot more new topics?
Yes, I believe this is the best time for Bollywood because the audience has changed. Today people want new, exciting content. Filmmakers have not changed. They are the same. The audience has changed. A filmmaker will change himself according to the audience. It’s the best thing today that we can tell new stories. We are allowed and able to tell stories like Badhaai Ho where the male lead’s mother gets pregnant. The film’s real hero is its story. I definitely believe this is a very, very good time for the industry as new filmmakers are coming with newer ideas.
Your next film is with superstar Ajay Devgn. Could you please share something about it?
At the moment, I can only tell that the film is based on Syed Abdul Rahim who was Indian football coach and manager between 1950 and 1963. Most of us don’t know much about it, but Indian football team won many laurels at that time.
What drew you towards this biopic?
I always wanted to make a biopic. It was on my wish list. And a sports film was also on my bucket list. I am getting a chance to fulfil two coveted wishes in one film (laughs), so why not?
This will be the first time when you work with a superstar like Ajay Devgn. Are you nervous or excited?
I have almost worked with all the superstars in advertising. But I have not worked with Ajay Devgn ever. I have just met him. He is a very fine man. He is a fantastic guy. No attitude. Nothing. So I am hoping that we both will enjoy making this film.
See, working chemistry is something else and just meeting someone once is something else. I have really enjoyed the story of Syed Abdul Rahim and we both are very excited about it. So if the script is good, the actor understands it, the director understands what he wants and if the chemistry between the actor and director is good, something good will only come out.
Featuring Ayushmann Khan, Sanya Malhotra, Neena Gupta, and Gajraj Rao in significant roles, Badhaai Ho hits the big screen on 18th October, 2018.