Nithya Ramani in Mumbai
The promos of Saif Ali Khan's film with girlfriend Kareena Kapoor -- Kurbaan -- are out, and it's getting a lot of attention. The music is riding up the charts, and it looks like producer Karan Johar may have a winner on his hands.
The man helming the film is Rensil D'Silva. This may be his first directorial venture but Rensil is not new to the field. An ad man with about 18 years of experience, Rensil has also scripted films like Aks, Rang De Basanti and Mani Ratnam's upcoming film Raavan.
When we asked Rensil why it took him so long to finally direct a film, he said he was 'waiting for the right time.' Well, it looks like the right time has arrived.
Rensil talks to Nithya Ramani about what to expect in Kurbaan and even the much-talked about poster showing a topless Kareena.
You have written the script of Kurbaan as well.
Yes. It is Karan Johar's story. He told me about the film and for the next few months, I couldn't get it off my head. A common friend told Karan that I had loved the story, so he asked me to direct it.
'Karan Johan has been highly misunderstood'
It is surprising to see a film like this -- based on terrorism -- to come from Karan's banner.
I think Karan has been highly misunderstood. He has a great vision and thinks across genres.
Kurbaan has a very intricate story from India to the US. I cannot reveal the plot. All I can say is that the film is about the state of Islam in the modern world. There are three types of Muslims -- the conservative, the radical and the liberal.
This is a woman's story. Avantika Ahuja (Kareena Kapoor) is a Psychology lecturer in NewYork. She comes to India to take care of her ailing father and joins the Delhi University. She meets Ehsaan Khan (Saif Ali Khan), they fall in love, marry and go back to the US. That's when things chance and their life gets topsy turvy.
You are starting your directorial career with a film based on terrorism. Isn't that a risk?
No, I don't believe anything is risky. The audience is open to new genres and experiments. That's why I was waiting for the right time. I have no hatred towards formula films but I cannot direct them.
There is a risk directing formula films now -- see the amount of flops every week.
'It is very difficult for real-life partners to have chemistry on screen'
You have got a great cast on board.
They were all finalised by Karan.
Were Saif and Kareena brought on because they are a real-life couple?
I think it is very difficult for real-life partners to have chemistry on screen because they are public figures and their lives are always under scrutiny. So anything they do on screen may affect them.
It (the casting) has helped us because they are professionals and have done things they haven't done before. We are getting a very good response regarding their chemistry.
The Kurbaan poster -- showing Kareena topless -- looks quite bold.
It is a scene from the film. I don't think it is different from what you will see on Channel [V] or any music video. It is just a lady's back and a guy's bare body.
If you look at it closely, you'll see that she's backless, not topless. We have used high levels of prosthetics in this film to show intensity like gunshot wounds.
This picture has a lot of relevance to the film and that's why we thought it was appropriate to make this the film's poster.
We don't see the rest of the cast -- Vivek Oberoi, Om Puri, Kirron Kher and Dia Mirza -- in the promos yet.
We have made sure not to emphasize on them in the promos because any more than what is being shown will give away characters and plot. Even one dialogue would give away their motives. We didn't want that.
Kirron Kher plays an Afghan for the first time. She has put in great effort.
'Kurbaan is not based on the 9/11 tragedy'
Being a first-time director, did you have any apprehensions directing these stars?
Being in the ad world helped me know these people from before. I knew Saif, and (met) Kareena through him. I knew Kirron Kher from Rang De Basanti.
A film like this wouldn't get over in 90 days if I had recieved any grief from the actors. They were very understanding and professional. A formula film takes 90 films to complete -- this film is very intense and has a lot of important moments.
My biggest apprehension was doing justice to the script.
Did being a writer help you as director?
Very much. I will always thank God that I can write. I will not be able to direct someone else's screenplay because that involves change in vision and perception. As a writer, I know how it feels when a director makes changes in your script.
Did Karan make any changes in the screenplay?
I know Karan well enough and can incorporate the changes he asks me to. He always assesses the material. You go up to him with something but he will not proceed unless it is perfect.
He has a great sense of music. I'm bad at lip-sync songs. I fail to understand how people can break into a song in the middle of a thriller. Karan understood that and helped Salim-Sulaiman do their work. I shot the montages.
Apparently, Kurbaan has some similarities to Kabir Khan's New York. Any comments?
What kind of similarities? Some people have asked me this question. The best answer would be to watch the film. There is nothing in common between New York and Kurbaan. Kurbaan is not based on the 9/11 tragedy.
'That some love stories have blood on them gets evident from the poster'
There are times when actors get so involved in the scripts that they add their own creativity to the story. How involved were your actors?
All of them were involved in the script. Kirron Kher was the most involved. Since she hadn't played an Afghan before, she worked very hard on her dialect and at times, arranged for her own clothes too. She was very clear about how she wanted to look and play the role.
What is your favourite scene from the film?
If I go into details, I will give away a lot. But my favourite scene is the poster scene. That depicts the whole film. That some love stories have blood on them gets evident from this poster.
Was the title changed from Qurbaan to Kurbaan because of Karan's 'K' fetish?
It was never Qurbaan. The media misinterpreted it. And it had nothing to do with Karan. He has done a film called Dostana. I felt Kurbaan was more effective.
There are reports that you will do a Kishore Kumar film next.
Shoojit Sarkar (of Yahaan fame) and I were working on Johnny Mastana and this was a thought that came across our minds. I will write it but nothing is confirmed yet. I am sure you don't want to get Kishoreda wrong, so I will take my time to start work on it.