There's a certain sense of calm that filmmaker Abhishek Kapoor exudes. Maybe it comes from his 15 years in the industry, having worked with some of the biggest names and delivered some immensely successful films. But is he content?
"I wish I had directed more films," he states matter-of-factly and adds, "But it is what it is. I have made six films and they are all different from each other because I have taken my time through them. I feel quite happy and satisfied that I got a chance to tell stories the way I wanted to." Now you know where the calm comes from even if the itch to make more films is palpable.
Last month, Kapoor released Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui, starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Vaani Kapoor, the story of a transgender and a gym instructor. The film with its progressive storyline has won many hearts even though box office collections are tepid.
Talking about how the idea originated, Kapoor says, "In 2017, a lady walked into my office with this idea about a transgirl, however, she intended to write it in a very different way. I asked her to park the idea with me as I was quite fascinated with the subject. We did a lot of research and eventually made this film."
For someone who entered the industry as an actor paired opposite Twinkle Khanna in Uff! Yeh Mohabbat in 1997, Kapoor the director has come a long way. Even though his acting debut sank without a trace, just like his directorial venture Aryan: Unbreakable starring Sohail Khan (2006), the filmmaker in him was persistent for success.
So when Rock On!! was released in 2008, written and directed by Kapoor, it became a defining moment for him as the film was not just a box office hit but even won the National Award for the Best Hindi Film that year.
Filmmaking, he says, "is not an easy job". He admits candidly that he isn't in the industry for the money. "I do it because I am compelled. When I make a film, I put everything I have to say into that idea. When I am done with it, I shut the door on that. Because it is done, there is a new world to start all over again. When you jump into a new world, there is a process of discovery, new ideas. I find that very exciting. It rejuvenates me, and it is very humbling."
Despite being from a film family (he is yesteryear actor Jeetendra's nephew), things haven't been easy for the director. Every movie requires him to walk an extra mile. "Like, when I did Kai Po Che, I didn't know anything about Gujarat. Or when I did Rock On!!, I was completely unaware of the rock music industry. I didn't know much about Kashmir but I made Fitoor. You have to dive into a new world every time. When the idea has life and is pure, it makes itself. My job is to bring the right people together. The movie makes itself," he explains.
The 50-year-old filmmaker has given equal hits (Kai Po Che) and misses (Kedarnath). But he remains unfazed by success or criticism. "If I walk consciously and take no risks, it would be futile and boring. We just have one life. These are the last things we should worry about. The fact that I got to make this movie and tell my story outstays the fear of getting rejected multi-folds," he says.
The only rule he follows is to stay unbiased. “Every filmmaker has a style and personality that permeates into the narrative. But I am merely an observer. I prefer to let the audience be the judge. It isn’t my job, and it would be an abuse of my power. I did Kai Po Che that dealt with the delicate subject of communal riots. Everyone knows the facts. I know my politics, but I don’t let it reflect in my films because it can’t be short-sighted.” Wiser words were never spoken.
Uff! Yeh Mohabbat -- Actor -- 1997
Aryan: Unbreakable -- Director, Story -- 2006
Rock On!! -- Director-Writer -- 2008
Kai Po Che -- Director -- 2013
Fitoor -- Director, Producer, Screenplay -- 2016
Rock On 2 -- Story -- 2016
Kedarnath -- Director, Producer, Story -- 2018
Chandigarh Kare Aashiqui -- Director, Producer, Story -- 2021