The motley team of the upcoming comic-thriller Bajatey Raho, director Shashant Shah, producer Krishika Lulla, actors Tusshar, Vinay Pathak, Ravi Kishan, Vishakha Singh and Dolly Ahluwalia, bring the house down in a candid chat with Box Office India
Vinay Pathak (VP): Yes, but don’t you find it avant-garde? People will immediately sit up and take notice. More so, the film is filled with mad and crazy people. That’s why we have such a quirky title. We had a ball while shooting. The crew cracked jokes all the time.
Tusshar: It was madness. In fact, the craziness behind the scenes during the shoot is the stuff of another script altogether.
Shashant, you have worked with Vinay in all your films and also Ranvir. How did the rest of the cast fall into place?
Shashant Shah (SS): I approached our producer Krishika (Lulla) with the story. And she and I decided to have Dollyji for the character of the mother. Then we wanted to cast Ravi Kishan but he refused, saying he was very disappointed with the role we had offered him. So then Dollyji stepped up and called him.
Dolly Ahluwalia (DA): When I called him, he asked me who I was! So I told him I was an upcoming actress and then somehow I managed to convince him.
VP: But the person who gave us the toughest time with her tantrums was the actress of the film, Vishakha. She kept us in limbo for the longest time. We would begin shooting and she would walk in at her own sweet time, and then throw a fit about her costume, her make up…everything! I mean, for the longest time, people were not sure if the film even had a lead actress!
DA: That’s how people got to know I was in the film too!
SS: And mind you, it’s not like she was busy with her make-up. She was busy eating. She loves to eat!
Is that true Vishakha? Did you keep them waiting?
Vishakha Singh (VS): Yes, I was eating!
VP: We know that Vishakha is a big star now, with two releases already in her kitty. In fact, she has become so snobbish that she didn’t even invite us for either of her films’ premieres.
SS: Don’t worry, Vishakha, we will call you for our premiere. I think Ravi Kishan will have to admit that she was snooty.
Ravi Kishan (RK): Oh absolutely! There is a very funny track in the film between her and my character. She takes me for a real spin. The moment she sees me, there is soft music playing in the background. So, yes, she was quite snooty.
VP: Fun? You call our hard work fun?
SS: I was smart enough to turn on the camera as soon as these actors walk onto the sets. It was shot like candid camera.
Tusshar: In fact, we would walk in at 8 am and that was part of the shoot too! No wastage of time at all. The dialogue was also sometimes impromptu. But jokes apart, the way you see Shashant right now, he was not at all like this on sets.
DA: I agree. I have to say that if you have seen the poster with all the characters on it, they are all Shashant’s many moods. It’s all him.
VP: And that’s the image we decided to promote our director with.
SS: I have such a generous cast. Thank you all so much!
Clearly, you are all very happy with the way the film has shaped up?
DA: Yes, we all are. The only thing I am disturbed about is that when this deal was done with Eros and Shashant, I was told that henceforth I would be cast in all their movies. I was so happy. But here I am with this news about them casting Ranbir Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan but not me! I was crying within but I didn’t let anybody see my emotions. I am that good an actress!
Tusshar: Dollyji is riding a success wave right now with her other film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag doing so well. Now, just one week to the release of our film, and she will be so big that she will pretend not to even recognise us.
Ravi, you play a bad guy in the film…
RK: Yes, I play the role of this guy called Sabarwal. He is a billionaire and is a bagful of emotions. He is casual, angry, funny and emotional. This character is on his own trip and he loves to eat. I had to put on weight for my role. Shashant fed me close to 57 parathas in the film and, yes, I have kept count.
Also, the script is superb. I want to thank Eros for putting their faith in this film. It was a small film when we started out but now we feel is growing by the day.
Tusshar: You know, the way we are behaving here… over-the-top, in-your-ace and slapstick… The film is nothing like this. The humour is outstanding.
RK: It’s a very positive feeling to have worked on this film. I want to thank Shashant for selecting me for the role. And he was the perfect friend, he fed me, pampered me…
DA: Too much detail!!!
Tusshar: Shashant is a fab director but is even better when he is not working. He is also a fab dancer.
VP: In fact he dances so well that the two item girls in the Nagin song, Maryam (Zakaria) and Scarlett (Wilson), can take lessons from him.
Tusshar: Yes, but he is a taskmaster on the sets too.
RK: If the film does well, it will be because of him.
VP: And if it flops, that too will be because of him. (Laughs)
Everything sounds hunky dory now, but were there any difficulties during the shoot?
Tusshar: I have to say that just after the workshops, Shashant suggested that we all meet over drinks and get to know each other better. I think that was the biggest mistake we made. We went out of control after that.
VP: Tusshar was so quiet before we met and now he is unmanageable.
RK: I want to say that Dollyji is the sweetest person I have ever met. After Vicky Donor, she is considered a lucky charm…
Tusshar: Raviji, you sound like a BJP candidate! (Laughs)
DA: This film is going to be fresh and full of hungama. I can promise you that.
VP: Apart from comedy, the film has a very strong story line. Every actor has done a great job. Ranvir Shorey, Ravi Kishanji and Dollyji, everyone…
In fact, I have the least screen time in the film, compared to Tusshar too, because at the end of the day, it’s the hero who has a girlfriend and it’s Tusshar who is romancing Vishakha Singh in the film.
Krishika, what was the idea behind the jagrata song?
Krishika Lulla (KL): Shashant wanted to have a jagrata in the film, which happens in Delhi. I liked the idea because the film is based in Delhi and that’s the culture over there. So he asked me to name the best songs we have in the films Eros has made to date. I said my favourite song was Tu mera hero from our film Desi Boyz. And he said let’s make a jagrata out of it.
SS: This song can just as easily double as a romantic number as it can for a devotional track by merely altering a few words. So it was the perfect choice. We needed something funny and ever since the song released, the buzz around our film has increased. I have been getting many calls appreciating the song. I have always loved popular songs like Tu cheez badi hai mast mast. The sequence in the film is very exciting and I would even call it innovative. Everybody in the house is busy with the jagrata and Vinay keeps everyone busy with his song while his teammates raid the house.
DA: (Cuts in) Didn’t you notice me? Does that mean I am not the heroine?
VS: (Laughs) I am the heroine of the film but Dollyji is the hero. She is a brilliant actress. Shashant had seen an item number which I did in a South film and he chose me. In spite of liking my dance performance in that song, he gave the item song to Maryam and Scarlett and cast me as the heroine of the film. But I would still say that Dollyji is the actual hero of the film.
VP: Hmmm… So Shashant, you have been watching a lot of item numbers? (Laughs)
Dollyji, you play a Punjabi mother in this film too. How different is your role to the one you played in Vicky Donor?
DA: It’s just a coincidence. There are billions of Punjabi mothers out there and this character is different from the one in Vicky Donor. After watching the film, many Punjabi mothers will connect with my character. In this film, there is no lead actor. It would be incomplete without Ravi’s character or without Vinay’s or Tusshar’s characters. Everyone is related to each other in the film.
I was so excited when I learnt that Tusshar was featuring in the film as I have always loved his work. But after finishing the shoot, I realised that 50 per cent of my role had been deleted from the film. Even while shooting, there were times I saw that I was not there in the next 12 scenes…
VP: (Cuts in) That’s because this hero (Tusshar) knows the producer well and he has cut everyone’s screen time in the film to hog the limelight. Now that both of them are producers, they planned this.
DA: Apart from all the masti mazaak, the film also tells the wonderful story of the relationship between a mother and son. Every mother will connect with the character, not just Punjabi mothers. Even my equation with Kamlesh Gill, who played the grandmother’s role in Vicky Donor is there in this film. She plays the daadi here too but the characters are different.
VS: The female characters in the film are very strong including the daadi, the mother and, of course, my character.
Shashant, Vinay has been part of every film you have made. Do you now write your scripts with him in mind?
SS: Yes! Every morning, I wake up and start thinking, ‘What should I write for Vinay now?’
VP: (Cuts in) It’s because you guys ask such questions that he hasn’t signed me for his next film. Thanks to all these allegations, he has started chopping my roles too. In fact, even in this film, he has given me the fewest lines and scenes!
SS: On a serious note, you are right. I started my career with The Great Indian Comedy Show, a television show. When I made my debut to films, I made Dasvidaniya, which featured Vinay. Then Chalo Dilli and now Bajatey Raho… every film featured Vinay. He is a powerhouse of talent. He can do any scene with ease.
But after this film, I will definitely work with Ravi Kishan. His commitment to his work is mind-blowing. I think he is a great actor who needs roles where he can experiment. I learnt a lot from him. When he came to the sets, I assumed he was coming from a different kind of cinema but he got into the character so well. He was serious when required and funny when he needed to be. And, of course, I will repeat Tusshar. As far as Vinay is concerned, he is in every film I make, simply by default.
KL: Yes, of course. After Chalo Dilli, we were working on many scripts and he (Shashant Shah) has lots of ideas, he comes up with different plots. And then he came up with Bajatey Raho. What I like about him is, he understands a producer’s perception, he knows how to make a film on a small budget.
SS: Also I enjoyed working with a glamorous producer like Krishika. So I keep going back to her with new scripts.
Tusshar, you have featured in many multi-starrers. How do you make your character stand out?
Tusshar: I don’t think there is a formula about a solo-hero film working or a multi-starrer working. The script is always king and I obediently perform the role that my director gives me. My first film was a solo film, which did well, but it was the Golmaal series and Shootout At Wadala that brought me into the spotlight. So there is no fixed formula that makes one stand out. An entire team works together to make a film work. But, yes, it depends on the genre and the kind of film you want to do. I guess I have always enjoyed a good equation with my directors.
SS: I have received a very good response, especially on Facebook. I am very bad with social networking but everyone is praising the trailer and the songs. When another actor compliments you, it’s one thing but when you don’t know the person who is praising you, that’s actual feedback. Vinay had created an account for me on Facebook a few years ago.
VP: That was because our film Dasvidaniya was releasing and we didn’t have any social networking account. So I created one for each of us. But this only proves that social networking plays a very important role in promoting your films.
SS: I am a great fan of Anil Kapoor, so Ravi introduced me to him and he said he loved the trailer. He said, ‘picture hit hai. Agar film hit nahi hai, toh agli film main teri free mein karunga!’ I think that says a lot about him and the film.
RK: Yes, everyone Saif, Akshay, everyone is tweeting about the film. The response is great.
After the success of Chalo Dilli, how much does box-office success matter to you?
SS: Eros handled this extremely professionally. They have a distribution head. He doesn’t want to disturb me. What they tell me is, deliver the print on time and concentrate on the edit, don’t worry about the response. He told me he didn’t want to burden me with expectations. The film also has the right budget so I hope it does well.