Box Office India (BOI): Obviously, you are here to promote 2 States…
Arjun Kapoor (AK): (Cuts in) No, I am still promoting Gunday! (Laughs)
BOI: As we all know, 2 States is based on a book. Have you read the book?
Alia Bhatt (AB): I had read the book long before I did 2 States, while shooting for Student Of The Year.
BOI: What about you, Arjun?
AK: I still haven’t read it. In fact, we just launched the book with a new cover and, at the event, Chetan (Bhagat) said, ‘Ab toh padh le.’ I am not a voracious reader. I was aware of the book when it became a success and I was aware of Chetan’s writing but I never imagined I would be offered a film like 2 States. I read the screenplay and then told Karan (Johar) that I was on. When I met Abhishek, the director, I was talking to him about the character Krish and said I wanted to read the book now. He said if I hadn’t read it already, I shouldn’t read it now. His interpretation was enough for me to know that I was on the right track.
AB: When I read the script for the first time, I was happy. Some portions from the book have not been included in the film to keep the film as crisp as possible. And there are some portions from the book that we have alluded to. But Abhishek, as the director of the film, has retained what he feels was required. He understood the world and the characters very well. Yes, we have tried to stay true to the book as far as possible.
BOI: You have worked with veteran directors like Karan Johar and Imtiaz Ali. What was it like to work with Abhishek Varman, who is making his debut with this film?
AB: I am a newcomer myself so it is not my place to make this comparison. Abhishek is very sorted and knows exactly what he wants. He also knows exactly what he wants his characters to look like and makes sure his shots are taken the way he wants them to be taken. He is a nervous wreck 24×7 but that’s only because of how passionate he is as a director.
AK: I have worked with Habib (Faizal), who made Do Dooni Chaar but he is a seasoned writer and has always done an excellent job. So, in that sense, I have had the best of both worlds. Homi (Adjania) is an established director now. But I can say that Abhishek doesn’t look or behave like a debutant. It’s always important for a director to be very clear about what he wants or doesn’t want, and Abhishek is like that. Also, he has kept the film very real.
I have also worked with Ali Abbas Zafar, who is very filmy and dramatic. Abhishek was a contrast to what I was working on in Gunday. So, every director has their own take on their material. I loved working with Abhishek in 2 States due to his simplicity. He is a fantastic find for Dharma.
BOI: Both of you are industry kids. Does that help while selecting a project?
AB: I am the daughter of Mahesh Bhatt and Soni Bhatt but they are simply Mamma and Papa to me, not ‘industry parents’. I have been raised by them, not the ‘industry’. Hence, calling me an ‘industry kid’ is not quite correct. I mean, would you call the son of an engineer, the ‘engineering industry’s son’? It’s a myth that, as actors, we don’t work. But it probably helps that you have parents in the same field or people who you know work in the same field. It does give you an edge. Say, you’re stuck or need some advice, you can approach them.
AK: I agree with Alia to some extent but I also understand where you are coming from, in that, we have grown up in this industry.
AB: (Cuts in) I haven’t at all.
AK: Alia hasn’t. She kept away from conversations like, ‘Arre, yaar, apki film ki opening kaisi thi?’ I’m sure doctors discuss what happens in the medical profession all the time. We did discuss the film industry; it is in my blood. But, with her, it was different. To answer your question… my background does not affect my choices. I use my own instincts and that’s why I think Ishaqzaade chose me before I chose the film. I think Aditya Chopra was smart in choosing me for that role rather than a generic, run-of-the-mill rom-com. That’s why 2 States puts pressure on me. He was very clear that he wanted me to do an Ishaqzaade.
With Aurangzeb, I was excited by the material because it was a song-less drama and thus very unique. Gunday played to the gallery and 2 States meant doing that rom-com that I always wanted to do, while Finding Fanny was niche. So I have tried to different stuff. The audience is more important to me than being an industry kid. If I believe a film is entertaining, I say ‘yes’.