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Love Is In The Air

After the back-to-back success of Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, director Luv Ranjan is back with his next offering, Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. Here are the three lead actors of the film – Kartik AaryanNushrat Bharucha and Sunny Singh – in conversation with Team Box Office India

Box Office India (BOI): Dosti aur ladki ke beech mein hamesha ladki ki jeet hoti hai – is Nushrat’s (Bharucha) take in the film. Suand Kartik, what about you?

Kartik Aaryan (KA)Humara take? Haan, Nushrat has already given hers nicely na. As for my take, I would ideally want dosti to win but, yes, the girl usually wins the battle. However, I am hoping that I leave no stone unturned to see that dosti wins in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. You will know whether or not I succeed on February, 23, in a theatre near you.

Sunny Singh (SS): Between the girl and dostikuch bhi ho, the girl usually does end up winning. If dosti wins, it doesn’t feel like a win; it very much seems like a loss. Aisa lagta hai ladki hi jeeti hai. Credit should go to the girl, who always finds a way to win the battle.

BOIHow have your fans and the industry reacted to the trailer and songs?
SS: It has been really good, yaar. Everybody has liked the trailer and songs as well. All the songs are trending on social media. The tracks have become favourites at parties and weddings. Now we are waiting for the film to release on February 23, so that we get some more love from the audience.
Nushrat Bharucha (NB): You should indicate who should answer next because the three of us will keep waiting for the other to answer. (Laughs)

KA: Haan. But tu bol na. Go ahead. Kya trailer ka reaction mila aapko?

NB: When we started shooting for Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, we all thought it would be seen as another film in the Pyaar Ka Punchnama series. The film has the same cast, director, team, etc. so we were wondering about this. When the trailer released, we were hugely relieved to see that people were reacting to the movie as quite different from our previous films together. When the first film (Pyaar Ka Punchnama) we did as a team came out, the audience said it was something new. Now, years down the line, people are still saying that we are doing something that is novel and different. That is a great reaction to get.
To add to it, we had Yo Yo Honey Singh, who made his comeback with us, with not one but two songs. We are very blessed in that aspect too. His tracks have become chartbusters. It feels amazing. It feels really good to be sitting here in Box Office India.

KA: My sentiments are similar. The response to the trailer and songs has been very solid. It is so good to hear people still repeating the dialogue, even though the trailer released a month ago. They are waiting for the film to release. In fact, when our film was postponed from February 9 to 23, people complained about that as they had made plans to watch this film during Valentine’s Day week. They wanted to see it before, not later than expected. I guess this is a big reaction for a film, purely on the basis of its trailer and songs. The biggest song of our album, Dil chori has been playing everywhere and we couldn’t have asked for a better response.

NB: You know, even your first question was based on a line from the trailer. The dialogue has made an impact.

KA: Yes, the lines are uppermost on everyone’s minds.

BOISpeaking of reactions, what was yours when you all were offered this script by Luv Ranjan?

KA: My first film was Pyaar Ka Punchnama and that was with Luv sir. Whatever I have learnt in this industry and about this industry is with him by my side. Acting school may teach you a certain process but the practical aspect can only be taught by a seasoned director or a writer, and Luv sir did that for me. I have looked up to him in every situation of my life during the last few years.
When Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety was offered to me, I was really happy. I was happy because the kind of films he makes, whether the Pyaar Ka Punchnama series or Akaash Vani, have been wonderful. Sab ko pasand aati hai aisi filmein. I would blindly agree to any role he offers me. I have that much trust in him. Hence, I am always excited to work with him and I will keep working with him. Even if I don’t get work anywhere else, main unhi ke saath yahin pe kaam karta rahunga.

SS: We are here because of Luv Ranjan sir and we are very lucky to have him in our lives. He has guided us personally and professionally. Professionally, when he offers us something, we trust that it will benefit us and that the roles will suit us. As Kartik said, we trust him blindly. Luv sir has been a big brother as well as a mentor. Most of all, he is always there for us.

NB: Because in Pyaar Ka Punchnama 1 and 2, he gave me mind-blowing things to do, my first question to him was, ‘Am I going to be a little better in this one? Or not? Or is it going to be the same thing again?’ (Laughs). That was the one question I had and it was because people think it is not difficult to pull off the roles that I did in the Punchnama series, but it is. It is difficult because you are not that person and when you are not convinced of what you are doing as a character, it is quite a task to pull it off. Even though these guys will not agree with me, it is true that I am not like the characters I have played in my previous movies, which were controlling, manipulative, nagging, dumb, etc.
SS: (Cuts In) You are sweet, Sweety. Hum bade diplomatic hain. (Laughs)

NB: The moment Luv sir said it was a different film and a different role, I was convinced. I had no other questions after that. I knew that this was what we would be doing for the next two years, no stress.

BOI: What was it like shooting the dance videos?

SS: Credit goes to Bosco sir. Only we know just how much we slogged during the rehearsals. It was difficult to cope, in the beginning, especially at their level. But the fun factor was there. These were Punjabi numbers and since I am Punjabi, I love songs like these. I often did my own thing and found that everyone else was doing something else. I remember while doing this step in Chote chote peg, whenever I had to go towards Nushrat, my ankle would slam into the corner of a piece of furniture between us. It took a lot of takes to get it right.

KA: (Cuts In) That was the spirit of Sonu getting in the way, trying to separate Titu from Sweety. (Laughs)

SS: (Laughs) Yes, it feels that way now. Coming back to the topic, we also had the song Dil chori, where the steps were very quick. It was a learning experience for me. I had a great time shooting all the tracks.

NB: In the Pyaar Ka Punchnama series, there weren’t many dance sequences. So it was fun to explore the dancer in me in this film.

BOIFrom the trailer, it looks like a reunion of sorts for you guys. What was it like to be back on Luv Ranjan’s sets?

KA: What did we do our first day back on the set?

NB: Shoot kya kiya tha?

KA: Oh, yes! We shot for the scene where the entire family is present. Basically, it was Sunny and me making our entries in that scene.

NB: I wasn’t there, at that point.

KA: No, you weren’t. The thing was, they wanted to start the shooting schedule by filming the lead actors of the movie. Hence, only me and Sunny were there. (Laughs)

NB: Oh really, Kartik?

SS: No, no. It was nothing like that. We were just shooting something in which she wasn’t there.

BOI: Sunny, do you always have to play peacemaker between Kartik and Nushrat?

SS: Oh yes, absolutely!

KAKya karega bechara, beech mein phas gaya hai na. After all, the title does say Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. So Titu is stuck in the middle.

NB: Anyway, I joined the cast on the third day and it was great fun being back on the set. It was a familiar sort of feeling.

KA: Jokes apart, when we were shooting for our first scene, it was with the family, and family plays a very important role in the entire story. We had actors like Alok Nathji and many others. The audience has seen only a few glimpses in the trailer but in the film, family has a pivotal part to play. We had a blast shooting with them.

SS: Also, you get to learn a lot from experienced actors. Many of them had a theatre background and had worked quite a bit in the industry before so it helped all of us too. It didn’t take long for us to become a family and even after the shoot we would hang out with each other. Alok sir is a very chilled-out person. He didn’t have any attitude and would always talk to us like we were friends. It was a lot of fun.

BOI: The chemistry between the three of you comes off so effortlessly on screen. And with the camaraderie we see right here, it is easy to understand why.
NB: We didn’t have to create the chemistry in our films. It is exactly like we are in real life, with each other. With Kartik, I keep fighting, so I continue to do that in this movie too.

SS: And I don’t say anything on or off screen. (Laughs)

NB: It was the first time I was romancing Sunny, so that was new for me. Kartik and I always had a love affair, which always went haywire. But this was role-reversal. Main usko barabar ka takkar dene wali hoon ab.

SS: It was a reunion and a challenge to make sure we didn’t play Chaukka, Gogo or any of our previous characters. It wasn’t like we were remembering those roles while we were performing these new characters. And since we know each other so well, it was reassuring to know that someone was there to help you whenever you needed it.

NB: And by ‘help’, Sunny means to make us laugh while doing a scene.

KA: The thing with me and Sunny is that whenever we make eye contact for an extended period of time, we end up laughing like lunatics. It happened recently during promotions, when a shot was underway. I happened to look at him and we burst out laughing. Actually, Sunny starts laughing and I follow.

NB: It was actually my shot and they were disturbing me.

KA: Yes, it was Nushrat’s because we had finished our parts. When we had to give Nushrat her cue, Sunny started laughing and the rest is history. (Laughs)

NB: It is true. Even during the shoot of the film, these two would say their lines while cracking up. People who were shooting the scenes from behind had to tell them that aapki bodies haste haste frame mein aa rahi hain.

BOI: How did you manage to finish the shoot?

KA: With lots of laughter. (Laughs). No, but seriously, Luv sir would get angry because everyone else on the set was serious. But this craziness happened more during the promotions than the actual filming of the movie. It happened when we were shooting for promotional videos etc.

NB:(Cuts In) Also, actually, we are good actors.

SS: Thank you for finally mentioning that.
KA: Yes, we are good actors but we keep forgetting that in between. (Laughs). So we shot the film somehow and it turned out to be great.

BOI: Kartik, do you relate to your character in the film?

KA: I relate to all the characters that I have played till now, especially Sonu, in terms of what he is doing and why he is doing it. He is street smart and will go to any lengths for a friend, and will sometimes even make decisions for a friend. He thinks that this girl Sweety, who has come into Titu’s life and is apparently playing the part of a perfect bride, is too good to be true. He feels he needs to fix this situation as he wants to save his friend.So, I could relate to Sonu because you often meet people who are just too good to be true. And even though you may be able to see that, your friend cannot. That’s how I relate to Sonu, it’s very easy. There are people like him around you in everyday life. I actually relate to all my characters, Rajjo, Gogo and Akash from Akaash Vani. These are characters from Luv sir’s world and that’s why I relate to them as an actor as well as a member of the audience. I am blessed that I started my career with Luv sir, who makes relatable cinema.

BOI: Sunny and Nushrat, can you shed some light on your characters, respectively?

SS: My character is very relatable because of the way my character Titu conducts himself. It is exactly what I have experienced in my family. I was brought up with basic values of respecting the elders in my house. Also, I come from a very orthodox family and that is how I could relate to the character in the film. Titu is basically a very sweet and simple guy.

NB: And that’s how he (Titu) got Sweety. I agree with the boys that Sweety is too good to be true. I am sure my character Sweety is wrong in certain ways. But being wrong is what makes my character believable and acceptable. If a person is being nice, then it is too good to be true. If a person is not being nice, people start ranting about the person as well. Compared to the characters I have played in Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, my character in this film is modern; she owns her own space and is more independent. She is accepting of the fact that her fiancé’s friend doesn’t approve of the marriage and she is ready to fight for it. She is prepared to give it back to him even after the friend tries to take her fiancé away from her. With this film, I feel I have been able to relate to Sweety a little more than the characters I played the other films.

BOI: What is that one thing that the audience will relate to? How is this film different from other films about weddings?

SS: We have a lot of films revolving around the complexities and minute details of a relationship, including films like Pyaar Ka Punchnama, Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 and Akaash Vani. People laugh and are entertained in theatres because they are able to connect to the film or relate to it. Full credit for this goes to the writers.

NB: It is not just a wedding film. Sure, a wedding is an integral part of it as a couple is going to get married in the film. But the story is about the dynamics of the relationships that have changed. The marriage being accepted by the groom’s best friend has become very important. The groom’s parents, grandparents and the entire family have approved of the marriage but it is just one person, i.e. the friend, who feels that there is something wrong about the girl.
It’s a concept that hasn’t been explored yet. All our films have had the element of comedy but we are not trying to come up with a different subject. We are just trying to have fun and keep it light-hearted. So even if it looks like a romantic film or a wedding film, it is the writing that sets it apart.

BOI: People have said that this film looks different from your previous films, like the Pyaar Ka Punchnama series. Do you add any special quirks to your characters to make them look different?

SS: I guess when you practice method acting, it helps you get into the skin of the character. First, it is about who you are in real life, and then comes the character that you want to portray on screen. So it is a mixture of both and that is what you emote.

KA: I always do my preparation with Luv sir. I have also prepared for this character on my own, a character who is very personal to me. There is always a subtle change and, over a period of time, you will see a major difference in the characters I have played, in terms of physicality and practically. The characters look different from one another. It is a mix of workshops and personal training.
It is a tough task for all of us, like, I try and write a back story about my character. To make Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 look different from each other was a difficult job for us, and it’s the same with Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. It is even more difficult to convince people of this as all the films featured the same actors. I love my character Sonu, he is very quirky. And Luv sir has worked on my character a lot. I was mostly required to deliver an already well-written character. I just have to tweak it a bit and the character gets elevated. I believe Luv sir is hugely responsible for this. That’s the best part, according to me.

SS: When you start reading a script, you also start visualising it, and finally it’s set in your mind. Every character in the film has a different tone, and we follow that.

NB: In Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2, the girls were supposed to be catalysts and he made the girls look like caricatures. In Pyaar Ka Punchnama, I feel it was just a little bit of it though. So in Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, he kept my character as close to how I am in real life. The way I talk or walk, the way I am happy or sad about something or when I am just my usual self, he tried to bring the normalcy he has seen in me in the last 5-6 years, to my character in this film. It has given my character a different flavour and it looks more real.

BOI: Who came up with such a tongue-twister of a title?

KA: I did. Sonu ka naam pehle ata hai na, so of course it was me!

NB: The film would have been called ‘The Sonu’, then.

KA: ‘Sonu’, The End (Laughs). Obviously, Luv sir came up with the idea. So it was there on the claps as SKTKS, which is the short form of Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. But we did not know the title till we did the title announcement video. We were not sure if this was going to be the title. But after the video released and the kind of responses we received, we realised that the title sounded very different and quirky. The title itself would become a talking point and people would have fun saying it. It was happening with us as well. People would have to say the name of the film at least twice to get it right.

SS: It becomes very catchy and you are not likely to forget it.

BOI: What are your expectations from the film?

SS: We are all excited and waiting for the film to release. We got a great response from the trailer and the songs.

KAHumare Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety ka Box Office India hit hone wala hai (Laughs).

BOIAny apprehension about the other films releasing along with yours?

KA: There is no apprehension at all. We have our set audience who will watch our film as well as watch the other films too. I am sure they are all good actors; I myself am looking forward to their film. There are enough screens for two films to release on the same day. All the best to Diljit, Sonakshi and Karan Johar sir.

BOI: As actors, do you track the box-office collections of films?

SS: I only believe in performance-oriented films. I personally look for the performance of the actors or if I find something funny in the film, etc. You usually get a hangover after coming out of the theatre, if you like a film. I believe in that rather than numbers. I think there are great films that did not make money.

NB: I think we should have a realistic view of everything. Eventually, it is business. You have put your money in the film and you will expect returns. I don’t understand this aspect very well but I definitely ask about certain details like the opening of the film, satellite value, overseas collections, etc. Anything more than that is outside my territory.

KA: I do follow these things. Everybody talks about it and I believe the producers and distributors should get their due. Also, people should like our film.

SS: Earlier, people used to ask whether they liked a film or not. Now they are more focused on picture ne kitna kamaaya?

KA: An actor’s films’ box office collections are kind of the actor’s success ratio. This is, in fact, one of the major considerations for producers when they cast an actor in their film. You need a success ratio in terms of numbers, not in terms of critical acclaim or quality of performance.

NB: When you are in that circle, you become a part of that game. You cannot escape it.

BOI: What has the journey of your career been like so far?

SS: My career has just started. I just want to get better with every film I do and put my heart into every project I take up.

NB: My biggest disappointment was when Akaash Vani did not work out because I had a lot of hopes for that film. It meant so much to me, not just as an actor but also as a person. It is not a subject that’s all out there or something people talk about. I did Love Sex Aur Dhoka, which was about honour killings and I felt great because the movie brought the issue to the fore in the media. People look up to the media and, as an actor, if I can bring about change, I will have done decently well for myself. I was proud to be a part of Akaash Vani, which was about marital rape, but the film was a disaster. It sent me into depression for a year and a half. I couldn’t figure out why a film like this was received so badly. I realised that you just have to keep your head above the water and keep swimming. You have to keep going despite failure.

KA: I started with a sleeper hit Pyaar Ka Punchnama. I didn’t know that this film would achieve cult status; I was at the start of my career. I got much more than I had hoped for. My expectations were high with Akaash Vani, which is Luv sir’s favourite film too. It might not have done well at the box office but I received a lot of appreciation when it aired on television. When the film didn’t get commercial success, it became a learning experience for me, because I realised that ups and downs are a part of our careers, and we all have to go through this process. Failure makes you stronger.

BOI: Tell us about your future projects. Is Pyaar Ka Punchnama 3 in the making?
KA: We can’t discuss that now; it is more appropriate for the producers and the directors to talk about that. As far as Pyaar Ka Punchanma 3 is concerned, Luv sir is the best person to answer that.

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