‘Yaadon ki almari’ is the song which comes to mind as I see Pradeep Sarkar, who has directed Mardaani, Parineeta, Laaga Chunari Mein Daag, now sitting for an interview for his upcoming movie Helicopter Eela. This film, a story about a mother and her son, stars Kajol, which makes it an even more interesting chat. The usually coy director, opened up bit by bit, as he spoke about the upcoming film. Here are the excerpts from his interview:
Helicopter Eela appears to be a very sweet and fun kind of film. Do you think it is a refreshing change in times of movies where there is more anti-hero kind of characters?
Yeah, it’s a very sweet and simple story. But it’s really emotional and humourous. Hopefully it would touch the people because it’s so sweet.
Have you come across such a parent who has gone back to their childrens’ college?
In relation to my wife, something similar happened.
Kajol called you someone who is fun-loving and doesn’t scream on sets…
This is new. I have been accused of many things. I used to be on the mike but now I’ve developed the method of coming closer to my actors and talk to them. I don’t direct anybody, just happen to keep things together. When I start talking, everything falls into place. Cameras start rolling. Because I’m closer to the actors, I don’t find the need to shout. I don’t think talking is needed that much today, and since we’ve started doing sync sound, so it’s much easier to deal with people.
What was the reason that you made Kajol slap Riddhi Sen so much?
I don’t know. I just felt like he should be beaten in a cute way. Kajol also adopted that. It was so much fun! There were actually more slap scenes but they got edited. Even while singing, she slaps him.
Apart from drama, comedy and romance, is there also a mystery element involved in the film?
Mystery of being a parent, that’s the most mysterious thing of all. The biggest mystery is how a parent can understand their kids and vice versa. There’s difference in language and behavioural patterns, smartphones have become a development of this generation. Everything happens in messaging these days.
So are you trying to say generation gap…
No, this is mindset gap. I’m very young, just need to change mindset. People my age have almost died or are very serious. I’m just not able to. While I was watching myself in an interview yesterday, I started wondering why do I look so fat and old when I feel so young. Parents have now become friends. If not, then you’re in serious trouble. With my father dying, I cried like a maniac not because he’s no more but because I never understood him and we were never friends. That has changed now. Even then there wasn’t generation gap but we were scared of saying the wrong things to each other. That’s how we stopped talking to each other. His wishes were mine. There was just this gap of no communication. The mystery is how to get out of that.
How did you manage to get into the mindset of Riddhi Sen’s character and then give him instructions accordingly? Was it a little difficult to show a different generation, probably something you didn’t know about, than yours?
The language is something I didn’t know much about. We even made a song on that, in the beginning of the film. My main concern was to create the environment so they feel in their spaces. In that I used their help and asked other people to understand. I requested them to not think that somebody knows more than them. It’s a film which is being made of that generation. If you don’t understand then it’s not possible to think. I’m a person who will say something and then forget it. More than me directing Riddhi, he was directing me. I genuinely ask him how will some things be interpreted.
Sridevi’s character in English Vinglish went to learn English, just like Kajol goes to college in Helicopter Eela. So is it an inspiration?
No, that was completely different than this. You’ll see! It has nothing to do with that film.
Would you agree that your film brings 90s nostalgia back, especially with Ruk Ruk Ruk?
She’s an aspiring singer so when you see the film, you’ll know why this song is there. When I add songs in a film, it’s not just for the sake of it. Nobody does that. With this one, it was a part of storytelling. It’s her musical journey from one point to another. There’s music which she loved when she was famous, and there’s another one after she became a mother.
What do you think Kajol and Ajay loved in the script?
I think there was a humour quotient – which shouldn’t end up becoming serious or preachy, which is how I was called in.
You have made movies like Mardaani, Parineeta and Laga Chunari Mein Daag. All of those characters were bold but Kajol is shown weak in this film…
She’s not weak. It’s love and overprotectiveness, which when in greater quantity, becomes a problem. The film teaches how to overcome that. Even if I give out my whole movie story, you’ll still love it when you see it because it has been enacted that way. It has come out in a very Kajol and Riddhi way. All the characters have donated their everything of learning so it becomes a watchable movie and taking home something.
I cannot imagine anyone as Eela except Kajol. Is it the same for you?
Kajol and Riddhi were right from the beginning, when I came across the script I could only imagine them. I never thought anybody else can perform, rather react the way they did.
What was the reason why you wanted to make the film?
I wanted to do a film with Kajol and this one was bang on! For me it was a wow feeling that not only did I get to work with Kajol but in a film like this where she could perform in a way that would make people cry. That was my high!
Now that the film is back in people’s minds, do you have specific plans to get them more intrigued?
Actually my wife suggested that we should use a helicopter for promotions and add Eela on it, letting it fly. So we’re trying to work that out but let’s see…...