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Ujda Chaman – A Hair-Raising Tale: In conversation with Abhishek Pathak and Sunny Singh

As Ujda Chaman is all set for its theatrical release, director Abhishek Pathak and actor Sunny Singh talk to Bhavi Gathani about the making of the film

The trailer of Ujda Chaman has comedy blended with a slice of life element. How do you see the audience connecting with the core subject of the film?

Abhishek Pathak (AP): I think the audience will immediately connect with the humour within a few minutes into the film. They are already in love with the humour we have shown in the trailer. At the same time, the dialogue used in the film, is the kind of comments we generally pass at others in our regular life. So when they watch this film, they will immediately connect to it. We have shown things in a humorous way. So, I think people will definitely come and enjoy the film. They would want to watch all the banter in the family and society.

People today want to go to the theatre to enjoy themselves and to get entertained. We are promising it to them with this film and we have delivered. There are also a lot of other surprises in the movie. I don’t want to talk about it right now but I assure you that after they watch the film, they will come out with a different thought process.

Sunny Singh (SS): As an audience, if I go to a movie theatre, having popcorn with some cold drink, I will love and enjoy watching a film only if it is entertaining. You go to a theatre to watch a film to laugh and to be happy. There are different genres and there are some movies that pass on some message. This is a film which shows the journey of a bald guy. There are moments which are different, there are emotions which are different, and obviously we have a humorous side to it so people will definitely like it. The movies that we have given earlier also had a humorous blend. Through that, we have observed that people easily connect with a film. Apart from that, when you talk about something, you should also get into the details. If you are showing the relationship of a couple, you have to show the details by presenting it with appropriate dialogue and scenes that relate to the audience easily. When there is more of realism in the film, it connects with the audience and that is the reason people like a film.

AP: The same thing was there in Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. The humour quotient that we normally get in a film is very real; something how people talk in real life. The dialogues, the situations are not filmy as such. They are more real.

SS: More than a scene, the person’s character and the dialogue connect the audience with the film. As far as Ujda Chaman is concerned, the issue that we are discussing in the film, I think everybody has to go through this at some or the other age. It’s a human thing. Some have a genetic problem so they go through this at a very young age. I also have friends who are bald and somebody is a little unconfident and they face issues like… yaar mein kisi se baat nahi kar pata, for them there is a problem of dating, on the other hand, someone is happy, he has a girlfriend; it is all about the confidence and the journey of every individual.

Abhishek, Ujda Chaman is the remake of a Kannada film. What was the reason behind selecting this particular film to make your directorial debut with?

AP: When I watched the Kannada film Ondu Motteya Kathe, I felt that this is a very tough character to get on screen and convince people to watch. It’s not an attractive character. Even in the film, the character is not attractive to a lot of people and that’s what the comment is all about. Somewhere, making people fall in love with him is a challenge in itself. I wanted to take up that challenge and I feel I have achieved it somewhere. The actor of the Kannada film is actually bald in real life too. Making him (Sunny) reach that level, that benchmark, it was challenging for us somewhere. We did a lot of look tests for that. When we achieved it, we were very firm that we want to take up this challenge and prove ourselves.

On the other hand, talking about making a remake or not making a remake, it is a different call altogether. Every film has its own voice and I wanted to put my kind of treatment to it, my voice to it. It’s a great story and character no one has really explored before. It was quite amazing. I thought I will love doing this and so I chose this film. I believe that we have at least reached the benchmark of the trailer by giving a good trailer to them. Now the decision is totally on them whether to watch the film or not.

Sunny, besides makeup what was the most challenging part for you to play this character?

SS: Initially I was thinking that it’s a different role and I was a little nervous as to how will I take this character forward in terms of the process but I gained confidence during the making of the film. We used to sit a lot and discuss about this character. If you do the hard work and give 100 per cent in terms of direction, acting and everything, the outcome will surely be worth praising. Apart from the prosthetics, I worked on the body language of the character; how will he walk, how will he talk with the people around, how will he talk with the girl, everything. We used to see all the shots as soon as we filmed them and people used to laugh on set too. That was a great response.

What was it about the story that triggered a yes from you?

SS: When Abhishek called me and said that he had a good script, I watched the Kannada film and I simply said yes for the film. I was very excited to work on the character. I remember doing the scenes and walking and talking as Chaman, wearing those clothes and the whole make over… I was very confident and happy doing it as this time the audience will see something different from me.

Abhishek, according to you, what makes Sunny and Maanvi (Gagroo) the perfect characters for this film?

AP: The way they are in their real-life I would say. I know Maanvi since long and I know Sunny since we were kids. When I was working on the script with my writers, they really came to my mind when it came to the vulnerability factor in the characters. This is how they are in real life. Then obviously we got a lot of look tests. I had to use prosthetics on him because I cannot make him go bald but as far as Maanvi is concerned, she is not a very thin girl so I didn’t want to cheat the audience as well. We made her look fuller as compared to what she is in real life to achieve the perfect character. Also, both of them are very fine actors so it was not a difficult decision. They were my first choice and we really got through it.

Also, as we discussed this is a remake of a Kannada film into Hindi. When you serve a larger audience, the Hindi speaking audience, what changes do you need to make in an originally regional film?

AP: The Kannada film is a funny film itself. The comedy that they do is very different as compared to the kind of comedy we as a Hindi audience expect. To make it relatable and more colourful, I took the entire set up to Delhi first. That is my favourite place. I love getting a character from Delhi be it Pyaar Ka Punchnama or anything. On paper we can easily see a very colourful family if it is from Delhi. The humour quotient has been lifted way above of what the original film had. At the same time, we have made a lot of changes. Of course, it was already an amazing film but I would not say that any film is a perfect film because at a certain point we feel that this can be done a little better, even when we watch our own film we feel the same way. So in that sense we somewhere had the opportunity to make it a little better since I am remaking a film.

When Ujda Chaman gets released in theatres, what do you want the audience to take away from it?

SS: They will take back Chaman.

AP: Yes, they will love the character Chaman because he is real, relatable, a very sweet and nice and innocent character. At the same time, they will remember a lot of writing work that we have done for the film. The dialogue I think will really remain with people for a longer time. They will go back with a smile at least when they leave the theatre.

I remember we showed the film to a lot of people who didn’t know anything about the script. I have shown this film to more than 60-70 people and I have kept getting messages even after four days saying that the film stays with them after watching it even after many days.

What’s next for both of you?

AP: Holiday. (Laughs). We need to take a break right now. We had a really hectic schedule for this.

SS: Yes, we need a little break and then maybe we’ll figure out something.

AP: Yes, right now just a break and then we will do something as there are a lot of things in the pipeline.

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