How will you describe the experience of working with two generations of actors in the same film?
Jugjugg Jeeyo is my third film with Varun Dhawan. I had worked on Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya and Badrinath Ki Dulhaniya as the Chief AD. We treated Varun as an AD, too. We used to say, ‘Varun aa na yaar, kar le (Varun, just come and do this)’. Just kidding. Varun used to ask me, ‘Tum Anil Sir aur Neetu ma’am se toh achhe se baat karte ho, lekin mere saath aise baat kyun karte ho ?’
I had worked with Kiara on Good Newzz. So, with Varun and Kiara, there was already a friendly relationship. In my first film, I got to work with Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor, I remember thinking, ‘Is this really happening?’ I got that same feeling working with Anil sir and Neetu ma’am. They’re legends. You have to be respectful, yet you have to know that you are the captain of the ship and you have to lead the team. You need to get the work done but with respect and some fun.
How did you convince Neetu Kapoor to be a part of the film?
Thankfully, Karan (Johar) had done half my job before I met ma’am. Karan told her that you have to come back. She was a little nervous and unsure because Rishi sir had just passed away. So, Karan told her that it was a good story and she should do it, all this happened before I went and narrated the script. Thankfully, she loved the story after the narration. She took some time to think about it, simply because she had some apprehensions about whether she wanted to work or not. A week later, she said, ‘I’m on’.
You had worked with Varun and Kiara before, but while directing veterans like Neetu Kapoor, did you have to change your process?
I feel you have to be a little more careful about how you get your things done. With Anil sir and Neetu ma’am, you have to know that you’re still a new director and you have to put yourself in place and tell them your perspective. I have realized that legends are easier to direct and they’re more adaptable. Neither Anil sir, not Neetu ma’am had the attitude that they have done so many films.
The first time I met Neetu ma’am, her voice and personality floored me. I was nervous while narrating the story to her. That didn’t happen with Anil sir. But with Neetu ma’am, I don’t know what it was. But when we started working together, and we built a professional relationship, then it was all good.
What was the difference between directing the senior generation of actors versus the younger ones?
There are similarities, I can’t think of differences off the bat. I think Varun is the younger version of Anil sir. They’re both so passionate about their work. When we would pack up at 6 pm. An hour later, I would get calls from both of them asking, ‘Kal ke scene mein yeh dialogue aise karte hain (For tomorrow’s scene lets deliver this dialogue in this specific way)’.
They are different actors. I don’t think the generation matters. There’s definitely a difference between Anil sir and Akshay sir. For example, Anil sir likes to rehearse a lot. After he gets the script, he writes down all his dialogues to memorize them. Whereas Akshay sir is more spontaneous. He would come to me on the sets in the morning and ask, ‘Haan bata kya kya karna hai (Tell me what needs to be done)’. So, the approach to work is different among actors. I don’t think the generation makes any difference.
In your film both the older and younger couple wants to get divorced. Do you think in relationships, the one who loves less has the tendency to exercise more control while the one who loves more has to compromise?
That’s a deep thought. I think that’s a script in itself. That thought seems a little generalized. My film is about two couples who really love each other. What encapsulates the essence of the film, is also in the trailer. It’s when Neetu ma’am says, ‘Rishta tootne ki koi ek wajah nahin hoti. Bahut si adhoori ladaiyon ki thakaan hoti hai bas (There’s no one reason why relationships break up. It’s just the fatigue or countless unresolved fights).’