From thrillers to emotional dramas Change happened to me with Aashiqui 2. I stopped trying to impress with skill and technique; special effects are not me as a person. I stopped lying to myself and I thank my wife Udita for that, for letting me be the person I want to be. Marriage made me come to terms with myself. That’s when I did Aashiqui 2 and Ek Villain. I just put my heart in and the emotional part started coming in. After Aashiqui 2, I was offered the chance to make Dil Hain Ki Maanta Nahin by the Bhatts. But I said that’s not what I want to do. I wanted to make HAK because I saw depth in the story when Mahesh Bhatt narrated the idea to me.
Developing the idea
Bhatt saab called me up three times not to make this film and I kept telling him why I should do this film. He called me during my honeymoon to persuade me not do this film since a similar film had not done well recently. He said you should do a light film, this is a very mature romantic drama. But this makes me stronger. This film is bigger than me, Bhatt Saab, Vidya and Emraan.
Audience for tearjerkers
Everyone watches a movie for a reason; and I don’t think people only go to the theatre to laugh or see action. They also go to the theatre to cry! I don’t know, but we stopped making this kind of cinema… somewhere we lost the emotional connect. After watching a film like this, you might want to go home and hug your wife or hug your loved one and tell them that you love them. We have stopped doing that! That’s the reason I was dying to do Aashiqui.
On casting Vidya Balan
This is the first time that I am working with an established actor. I never thought I would get a chance to work with Vidya Balan; I thought she was just being nice when she said she liked Aashiqui 2 a lot and called up Bhatt saab and told him that she wanted to do this film. What I have learnt from Vidya is her hunger which never dies and which I think no one should ever lose. She gave her own house for workshops. Even after so many films, so much success, she still asks on the sets: ‘Am I doing it right?’ It’s unbelievable how well she has done that role. Her best scene is where she has no makeup at all.
On working with Emraan
I work with people who I think are right for the film. People told me ‘What are you doing with Siddharth in Ek Villain … he is a chocolate boy,’ but I could see something in him. Ritesh was known for his comedy roles when he was put in this role. I always cast an actor based on what I see in him or her. Similarly, for this film, maybe I had an insight in Emraan’s life: I knew how the last two years of his life has been – he has seen great success and failure and then his son (ailment) and his grandmother (demise). I could see how Emraan had changed from a boy to a man … and maybe that’s what this film is about.
On Rajkummar Rao
Raj is a fabulous actor, apart from his National Award. He is a very earthy man. There is certain something that he can bring to a character; he really lives it and that’s what I needed for this film.
Being a father
A little bit of us always bleeds into our film. I think everything changes – if my father’ death changed me; my daughter’s birth will also change me. Maybe I might make a children’s film. I know Anurag (Basu) is doing that with Jagga Jasoos. He realised how his children reacted to Barfi more than his other films and that’s why he is making this film for his daughters.
My next film is the remake of Intouchables. Karan Johar is producing it. I have not cast anyone yet. I have changed the story from that of an older man and younger man to a story of two young men since it’s about friendship.