Irrfan and Parvathy’s breezy rom-com Qarib Qarib Singlle, which released last week, is the toast of the town. Apart from the wonderful performances, the praise for the film is also due to the excellent team. This week, Suranjana Biswas went behind the scenes with Gazal Dhaliwal – dialogue writer, to understand her processes.
On the story
The germ of the idea came from Kamna Chandraji, Tanuja’s mom. The story was about a poet who believes that his last three girlfriends still miss him, and a new woman in his life who asks him to find out the truth. We always knew that it would be a rom-com, a light-hearted story. When Tanuja narrated the story to me, she had already contemporised it a bit. She didn’t want Yogi to be a heavy-hearted poet but rather this upbeat person full of life. Tanuja and I together developed the screenplay and created these little moments, like Jaya and Yogi’s connection with each other.
When it came to the story, my focus was mostly on the characters and their nuances. How Yogi is very funny and Jaya is an extremely reserved person; how they are just the diametric opposites of each other.
On the inspiration
I have been on a couple of dating sites myself, and I have met people, not that I have come across anyone like Yogi. But I have had my experiences and I know how horrible some men can be. That zone was familiar to me, as was the idea of meeting someone for the first time through a dating app. Both Yogi and Jaya’s characters come from a very personal space. Some of Yogi’s quirkiness comes from me.
On the director
My collaboration with Tanuja goes back eight years. I was introduced to her by a director-friend. Quite instinctively she felt that we should work together. She got me on board to write something for a script she was working on. We are very like-minded people and writing together was a smooth process. It was like a tennis match; we would toss ideas back and forth. She is extremely well-read, much better-read than I am. There is a lot I learn from her, because her sense of nuance is so strong when it comes to characters. She is also very generous and likes to credit other people for their efforts.
On the actors
When we wrote Yogi, Irrfan Khan was the first choice. Irrfan can pull off anything – here, it was the quirkiness of Yogi and the fact that he was about 40. He is not a typical Bollywood hero, yet there is a charming quality to him. He brought so much to Yogi; he really makes a character his own. Parvathy was instantly on board. She loved the script. It was just destiny. When I look at the script now, I feel nobody else could’ve played Jaya. Parvathy is Jaya!
On the audience
During the first two days after the release, I went cinema-hopping. We would spend 30 or 40 minutes at each show, and there was one thing I found overwhelming every time. People were laughing so much as they watched the movie. It was great to witness that. I was in the washroom in one theatre and I overheard a woman saying something about the film like, ‘Wasn’t this much better than what we were planning to watch’. And I heard the other girl replying, ‘Yeah!’.
On future projects
I am currently writing for a Vinod Chopra film, which will be directed by his sister. I can only tell you that it is a fun film. It is really juicy. That’s all I can say about it right now!