Syed Firdaus Ashraf in Mumbai
After scripting successful films like Heyy Babyy, Masti and Jhankaar Beats, Milap Zaveri makes his directorial debut with Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai, releasing April 9.
The film, about a boy from Earth and a girl from Venus, stars Riteish Deshmukh and Sri Lankan beauty queen Jacqueline Fernandez.
"The alien in my film is Jacqueline, who is very cute and loveable," says Milap. "According to me the, two most loveable aliens are ET and our own Jaadoo (from Koi Mil Gaya). We believe aliens are monsters, but I wanted one alien to be gorgeous. And, therefore, JKSAH."
The debutant director discussed his film with Syed Firdaus Ashraf. Excerpts:
Why did you feel the urge to become a director after writing scripts for nine years?
I was in Australia shooting for Sajid Khan's, Heyy Babyy, for which I wrote the screenplay and dialogues. Over there I became friendly with and close to Riteish Deshmukh.
He told me that I was ready for direction and further said that if I had any good scripts, he would work with me. So, I would say Riteish Deshmukh and Sajid Khan were the people who actually inspired me to become a director.
And they said, "Don't use this line publicly, because if you make a bad film people will abuse us." [Laughs].
'This story is about a boy who cannot find love'
And how did you land up directing Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai?
It was because of Nikhil Advani (producer). I remember that I went to him and told him that I wanted to be a director. He had heard the script of this film and decided to produce it. That's how the ball got rolling.
Did fairy tales inspire you to do this kind of film?
I always wanted to write a love story that was unique compared to what we see in Indian cinema.
This story is about a boy who cannot find love. He is such a loser that no matter what he does, he cannot find love. He then says, "If there is no one in this world, will someone come from outer space?"
That is where I got the idea and decided that the girl has to come from Venus. So we have Tara, a girl from Venus, and a boy from Earth (Riteish).
'The film does not depend on special effects and magic'
So this girl comes via a spacecraft?
Yes, she comes from Venus on a spacecraft. While the film does not depend on special effects and magic, she has got some fun powers that are damn cool and cute. Still, at the end of the day, it is a love story.
When you are a writer, you write a film for another man's vision. But when you are a writer-director it is your own vision that makes the film. So how difficult is it?
I feel when a writer becomes a director he starts losing objectivity. You cannot decide what is good and what is bad.
I wrote this script for a very dear friend of mine, Tushar Hiranandani, who wanted to direct the film. So, I had a third party view on this film. When I said, "I want to direct this film," he gave the script back to me. This helped me to draw a line between writer and director.
Did you rewrite the script?
There are always a few re-writes. Like, you can always make certain things funnier. But when we went to the sets we had a bound script and we had a workshop too.
'I don't want to give depressing films'
Why did you decide on Jacqueline Fernandez?
I had decided that Jacqueline would do Sonal's role. But when I offered that role, she didn't want to do it. Finally, when I decided that I wanted a new girl for Tara, I spoke to Nikhil, and we felt that it had to be Jacqueline. She has great looks and is a fabulous dancer and a fantastic actress. She is not from India, so she had a bit of 'foreignness' to her. We felt that she would be able to do justice to the role.
So was being an outsider the criteria?
No, I tested her for acting. She worked hard on her Hindi. Plus, she looked absolutely beautiful. I wanted someone to look alien and beautiful. She also looks very loveable.
You have written hit films like Jhankaar Beats, Masti and Heyy Babyy. How have you been able to connect with audiences time and again?
I have been lucky and I have worked with good people.
Also, I feel comedy and humour have been my forte. I just feel that entertainment is very important in cinema. I don't want to give depressing films. Even if it is dark, it has to be entertaining.
'I was not allowed to watch films, so I had to watch them secretly'
You are a from a family that is into jewellery. So how did writing come to you?
I just loved Hindi films. But I was not allowed to watch films, so I had to watch them secretly. I used to read Filmfare and Stardust. In my college, (Jai Hind in Mumbai), I wrote inter-college scripts and all.
Two people who inspired you to join films were Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar. But when you started your career, you went on to do films with Sanjay Gupta...
I loved Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I came to cinema because I wanted to make such films. Somehow, I met Sanjay Gupta and he taught me that I don't need to be flowery, and that spoken words can be better than my dramebaazi. After doing films like Kaante, I moved on to make comedy films.
So will you be writing more films after Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai? Or move to direction?
I have written a screenplay for Sajid Khan's Housefull. Hopefully, if God is good and audiences like my film and this film works, I would like to direct my own film in the future. There is no greater pleasure than being captain of your own ship.