'Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge is not a comedy film'
Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge tells quite the unconventional story, and stars a pair never seen on screen together before -- Ajay Devgn and Konkona Sen Sharma. Paresh Rawal adds to the chaotic comedy he's become so good at.
The film is directed by Ashwini Dhir, who gave us the insipid comedy One Two Three earlier.
Dhir talks to Patcy N about this new film, and why it's worth a watch.
How did you get the story idea of Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge?
This is not a new story. Things like this keep happening in our lives. Recently, there was a similar incident at Kumarji's (Mangat, producer) house where a guest came and refused to leave.
When Kumarji told me about this, I told him that I had read an article of (author) Sharad Joshi, about a guest who refused to leave. I told Kumarji that we could make a film on this concept. He told me to go ahead. I wrote the story with the help of a real incident and some past experiences. It took me two months to write the script.
Image: Sanjay Mishra, Ajay Devgn and Paresh Rawal watch the monitor while Ashwini Dhir (standing, second from right), looks on
'There are no negative characters in Atithi'
How did you decide on the cast, especially since Konkona has never done comedy before.
This is not only a comedy film. It is a simple story with funny situations. There is no slapstick comedy, it's situational comedy. Would you say Sharmila Tagore was doing comedy in Chupke Chupke? No, she was just playing her part.
The characters are light; there are no negative characters. So we did not need funny actors, we needed good actors.
How did you convince Konkona to come on board?
I told her about the concept and she liked it. She loved the script too, and wanted to be a part of it.
Of all the actors that I have worked with in the past, I would say Konkona is the most professional among them all. She is very punctual -- she comes to the sets on time, and gets ready quickly. Directors like to work with such people. She is also a very good actress. She was worried that her Hindi would be bad. But I said that I wanted her Hindi to be bad as she played a Bengali character.
Image: Konkona Sen Sharma
'Ajay is the backbone of this film'
Ajay Devgn seems to be a regular in Kumar Mangat's movies.
It is not like that but yes, Ajay is part of the family and you prefer to work with family. Ajay is the backbone of this film -- not only because he has acted in this film but he has also contributed in the scripting process.
How did he help with the script?
I had written the dialogue for Ajay Devgn's directorial debut film U Me Aur Hum, so my relationship with him dates back until then.
I am a writer, so when I first told him about Atithi's story, he asked me to write the script in such a way that it would not be typecast as a comedy. He gave me some ideas which took the story forward and gave it a new angle. A film that could have been just a simple comedy became an extraordinary comedy film.
Image: Ajay Devgn, Konkona Sen Sharma on the sets of Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge
'Whoever sees this film will not come out empty-handed'
So your comedy has a message?
My audience will decide that. But I'm certain that whoever sees this film will not come out empty-handed. He will take something with him.
How was the shooting experience?
The whole film was memorable because we shot it in 35 days.
We finished the film quickly because Pareshji had a grown moustache for the film and I did not want him to use an artificial moustache. He had to work on other films too. Also, I had got the dates in chunks for all my actors, which is usually very difficult.
Image: Paresh Rawal and Ajay Devgn
'One Two Three did not flop'
Your last film One Two Three did not work. What are your expectations from this film?
People say One Two Three was a flop. But it did not flop; it just did not do that well. The producers made their money. I think Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge will be liked by all because it talks about values and warmth; it has fun, emotions and comedy.
What are you working on next?
I am working on a few projects but nothing is finalised yet.
Image: Akhilendra Mishra, Sanjay Mishra and Paresh Rawal