March 13th, 2010 - 11:30 am ICT by Sampurn Wire  

March 13, 2010 (Sampurn Wire): RAHUL AGGARWAL talks to JYOTHI VENKATESH about acting, directing, and relationships that matter.

Why did you set out to make a comedy like Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke, when your father T.P. AggarwaI has made films like Love In Nepal, Return of Jewel Thief and Red Alert?

I like watching comedies. I have always liked the brand of comedies which Basuda and Hrishida used to make once upon a time. Today most of the comedies are just slapstick. My film Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke is a situational comedy, which will remind you of Chupke Chupke.

Why did you cast yourself in the title role of your film, besides directing it?

I did not want to act in the film. I was just slated to direct the film. When I approached Paresh Rawal with my script, he liked it and agreed to act in my film provided I cast myself in the role of the protagonist Devaki Nandan Tripathi.

Did it strike you to cast Shreyas Talpade in your role in the film?

Shreyas Talpade has played the role of the common man in some films. I did not want to cast him because long back, he had told me that he did not want to play the role of the common man in every other film because he feared getting typecast. If an actor like Amol Palekar had nursed the ambition of emerging as a romantic hero like Rishi Kapoor at that time when he was getting type cast as a common man in films like Rajnigandha, Chotisi Baat etc, he would not have been able to make a name for himself in that mould as an actor. Isn’t it?

Did you plan to cast any other actor, say like Rajpal Yadav in your film instead of you?

If my film had been made say twenty years ago, I would have visualized Amol Palekar in the role that I have played in the film. I did not want to cast Rajpal Yadav or for that matter Vijay Raaz in my role because in that case, the roles may have been reduced to caricatures. The toughest aspect of my role was that I had to maintain simplicity and honesty, as far as my character was concerned.

How tough was it for you to direct your film, considering you had to direct yourself too?

It was quite tough to direct the film initially, because I had to do the balancing act of acting as well as directing myself. In the process after three days I realized that I should not be myopic about my shots, because I had to be submissive as my character demanded it. It was difficult to zero in on the right actor to play the role of Devki because it needed some one to play it with a poker face with sincerity.

How difficult was it for you to get into the shoes of an actor?

I should say that it was not at all tough. Not many are aware of the fact that I had actually acted in a tele film called Khamoshi Ke Deewar when I was just 13. It was not a tele film made my father. Besides this, the fact also remains that I had gone to Australia to do a course in acting and direction for three and a half years from 1999 to 2003, which helped me to look after my father’s production house when we made films like Love In Nepal, Red Alert etc.

Is Paresh playing a negative role in your film?

Paresh Rawal plays the role of Inspector Khote. His character is neither black nor white but has grey shades. For that matter, there is not even a single negative character in my film, which is about the trials and tribulations of Devki when he migrates to Mumbai from Palanpur after his wedding. Paresh Rawal paid me a big compliment by telling me that he felt that my script was rooted to the soil since it had mitti ki khushboo in it.

Weren’t you scared that distributors would not come forward to buy your film since it does not boast of saleable lead stars?

I was confident about my script. Today, even the biggest star studded films are bombing. No longer are there big films or bad films. There are only good films and bad films. I feel that if you make proposals, you would go out of business. Those days when producers used to tailor their scripts to suit the available stars have gone.

What do you think about the prospects of your film at the box office?

I am practical enough to be aware of the fact, as an actor I am not a Rajnikant that there will be a lathi charge at the opening of my film. All that I can say is that I am very confident of the fate of my film Na Ghar Ke Na Ghaat Ke at the box office. I do not mean to say that it would emerge as another Sholay or for that matter Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge but I am quite confident that no one would say that I do not deserve to direct a film or for that matter act in a film

How tough was it for you to cast an actress for the role of Mithilesh Kumar?

I auditioned around 150 new girls for the role because it needed a naïve girl. I was exasperated because the girls who had the screen presence for the role did not know to speak Hindi and those who could speak chaste Hindi did not have the screen presence at all. Ultimately I zeroed in on Narayani when my father suggested that I should cast her because he felt that she fitted the bill.

Did you cast Narayani Shastri because you are in a relationship with her?

I am not in a relationship with Narayani Shastri, who is just a good friend of mine. I wish I could say that we are having an affair because it would help me market my film in today’s times but the fact is that we are not into a relationship. The biggest problem that I am facing is the fact that all the heroines I have come across are quite tall, unlike me. Narayani Shastri was not the original choice for the role of Mithilesh Kumar Dubey. In fact she was doing the job of production designing for our film.

Which are the directors that you admire?

I admire Imtiaz Ali as a director for his clarity and vision. Kareena Kapoor has not given the level of performance that he had extracted from her in Jab We Met. Though I am not at all in favour of remakes, I admire Farhan Akhtar because when he set out to remake Don, he gave it a twist in the end. I admire his vision too, as a director.

What next, after Na Ghar Ka Na Ghaat Ka, either as actor, director or producer?

All the three- acting, direction and production give me different highs. Right now, I am working on not just one but two different scripts simultaneously. If the role suits me, I may cast myself as an actor, not otherwise.

-Jyothi Venkatesh/ Sampurn Wire

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