Karan Johar is known to back first-time directors and if January saw the release of Karan Malhotra’s Agneepath, which had a great opening, February will see the release of Shakun Batra’s Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu, a romantic comedy to be launched on the eve of Valentine’s Day. “It’s a slice of life film and I am lucky Karan liked the script... a few changes, all for the better, later, we were on the way,” recalls Batra, who assisted Abbas Tyrewalla in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na when he befriended lead actor Imran Khan. With a first-time pairing of Imran and Kareena Kapoor and foot-tapping music by Amit Trivedi (Dev D, No One Killed Jessica), blogs, proactive marketing, Batra (and Johar) has managed to create a buzz around the film, made on a R20-30 crore budget. In a chat with FE, Batra talks about his journey and how Bollywood has opened up giving many first-timers a chance to tell their story. Excerpts:
What’s fresh about a romantic comedy like Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu?
It’s a slice of life film, driven by characters. The plot is not primary, emotions of the characters are at the forefront. It is set on two weeks of the life of two characters, played by Imran and Kareena. Imran is out of a job and the film deals with what happens when he meets this girl. It's about chemistry between these two characters.
It’s the first time Imran and Kareena have come together, creating quite a buzz...
Imran is fairly new to the industry and so every time he works with an actress he hasn’t worked with, it will be a new pairing. For me, they were my first choice.
Tell us a bit about your journey till your first film.
I had been working at production houses and also as an assistant director on the sets of Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and Rock On!. I was supposed to work on Farhan Akhtar’s next project but that got pushed back. I had by then written this script and showed it to Imran who liked it and passed it on to Karan Johar. After some revisions and changes, Karan Johar was happy with the script and we were on our way. It’s been two years in the making and I am happy with the way it has turned out.
Revisions, changes—usually first-time directors are so passionate about their first film that they don’t agree to any changes in the script...
Well, Karan Johar made some valuable suggestions and there’s nothing in it that I do not agree with. It has not compromised my vision of the film at all. Everything that we changed was for the better. He is a great producer and generous, non-interfering. It was good to listen to his feedback.
Well, you are lucky you found Dharma Productions to back you. Is it easier now to make a film in Bollywood?
It is never really easy to get a backer but it is also true that Bollywood has definitely opened up to new stories, new ideas, new directors. Ultimately, it boils down to trust with the producer you are working with.
How did Amit Trivedi come on board as the music director?
He was my first choice for music director and he is really busy but we got him in the end. He understood the film and we are very happy with the music. He first gave us Gurbare and then the rest. We had some difficulty with the title song—in fact we tried out at least ten options before we hit the track that’s on air.
What are your expectations from the film? Is it going to get a wide release?
We hope we find an audience. It’s a film which has its heart in the right place—if people connect to this, it will be an achievement. Its going to get a release that is suitable for a film of this genre, obviously it’s not an Agneepath. We released the promos two months ahead of the film’s release so that people want to come watch the film.