Happy New Year is probably the most difficult film I have made in terms of scale and ensemble. There were six actors and everything was lavish and larger-than-life. Just co-ordinating the dates of actors and getting the right star cast was the main challenge in the beginning. We didn’t have a heroine until three weeks before we started shooting! We didn’t have someone to do Sonu Sood’s role either. In fact, Sood came in on the day of the shoot. About Deepika, I hadn’t approached her because I knew that she had Tamasha in the pipeline. So we were looking for a new girl. My Blackberry chat display picture at that time was a picture of me looking into space and asking for the new face of my film — in jest of course. That’s when Deepika saw it and called me, asking why I hadn’t approached her. I said that I knew how busy she is. To which she said that the Tamasha shoot has been postponed by nine months. I guess in the end, the right person just walks in when he or she has to.
We first shot in Dubai and then in Mumbai. Shooting at a Dubai mall for a day was logistically, the biggest nightmare for us. We had planned a day’s shoot one or two months in advance and planned sudden exits just in case there were to be a mob.
I am a very hands-on production kind of director, so we had a huge set put up in Film City for the climax song. We shot there for 23 nights. It was massive with LEDs, 10 TV screens and the works. I feel that after having done that, I can shoot anything, anywhere.
The other big challenge was to handle Abhishek Bachchan. I have a seven-year old who is better behaved than he is — I’m kidding! He made me chase him around Mehboob Studio. Vivaan is another space cadet. He lives on his own planet so you will see everyone doing one thing and Vivaan doing something else. In the last song, I had to ensure that Boman dances as well as Deepika.
This is the most fun shoot that we have all had. It is a rare film where none of the actors had ego issues. One of the memorable moments is when these guys played an April Fool’s prank on me. My EP said that the actors had all gone for dinner and wouldn’t be available till about 11 pm. I was raging mad while these guys were standing right there and entered singing Happy April Fool’s Day!
—As told to Asira Tarannum...