My plans were always to be a director; being an actor was purely incidental. I was at the National School of Drama and had started getting offers to act right away, but my heart was behind the camera. You see, I’m a restless person. Actors spend the whole day waiting for the lights and cameras to be set up and then just three-four minutes are actually shot. I didn’t have the patience for that. A lot of people advised me to take up acting assignments and gradually slip into direction. I did that. I tried making my first film, Nana Karte Pyaar, a couple of years ago. It was supposed to star Nana Patekar and Hema Malini, but just then the recession happened and it derailed our plans. One day, my assistant directors and I were sitting around, and we came up with a story just like that. We discussed how love and war are the most universal themes so why not mix them both? I read out the script to Ketan (Mehta) and Anup Jalota (who is also co-producing the film) and both of them liked it.
Tere Mere Phere is about the battle of the sexes. The film has three couples—Vinay Pathak and Riya Sen who play a rural husband and wife; Sushmita Mukherjee and Darshan Jariwala who are a senior couple; and a young couple played by newcomers, Jagrat Desai and Sasha Goradia. In fact, Jagrat was the assistant director on the film, and wondered if he could audition for the role. Just to humour him, I agreed. He was 10 kg overweight, with long hair. But he surprised me. Then Jagrat joined a gym, lost weight and looked the hero’s part. As for the female lead, I did come across many gorgeous divas who just couldn’t act. But Sasha I met and liked.
Shooting of the film in Himachal Pradesh was the most amazing experience. When love is new, everything feels beautiful and the wonderful streams and greenery of the setting offer a perfect backdrop. As you go deeper, the terrain gets arid and lethal, which offered an amazing metaphor for the story.
Did Ketan influence my film? No. We have very different sensibilities and are very different people. I have a Punjabi upbringing. I am loud and boisterous. Ketan, on the other hand, has a Gandhian
background. So no, we would never make similar films. Where we feel alike is our attitude to life. We are adventurous and don’t take life too seriously. That does not mean disrespecting life, but we believe in doing our own thing. I have followed no formulas. I don’t believe rules work in films. You’ve got to make what you want.
;Sahi is a well-known producer and actor.
;(As told to Sandhya Iyer)