The director of films like Aashiqui 2, Ek Villain, Murder 2 and Kalyug, Mohit Suri is back with his latest flick Half Girlfriend, which is based on a Chetan Bhagat novel of the same name. The filmmaker opens up to Koimoi in an exclusive interview about why he launches at least one new musician with each of his films, why he gives the utmost importance to romance and music in his movies, his inspiration in life and more…
Why Half Girlfriend?
I asked myself the same question when I got the manuscript of the book. I initially thought that it would make a frivolous, popcornish kind of film but when I read it, it had all the angst and the emotions that I actually look for while making films. It is a heartland love story about a Bihari boy from a small town, who has a language barrier. He finally realizes that love has no language. I thought it would be a very interesting concept for me to make a film in my way.
Your last few films were mostly romantic…
Well I have made thrillers, I have made films like Ek Villain, Murder 2 and Kalyug but in all my films I give a lot of importance to love stories. Maybe that’s how I see the women in my life, who have played a very important role. When I did Aashiqui 2, I realized that this is the kind of film that I like to make. I might grow and change as a person with time and end up making a father-daughter film or a father-son film or anything else. But I want to keep the emotional quotient high in my films.
Would you like to experiment with other genres then?
I would love to do that. I have done films with different kinds of concept. I think you cannot approach a film with the thought that I am going to do something different. Different gets made. You have to approach it with the thought that whether I would like to live with this script for the next one or two years of my life.
What is your inspiration as a filmmaker? What keeps you going?
I love the journey of how an idea turn into a script and a script turns into a visual format and then how songs come in…I love the entire process of shooting, I love that process of learning with every film. I learnt so many things about interior India, about Bihar in this film. Working with new technicians…a basketball team came down from the NBA to teach us etc. The day I don’t enjoy that process anymore I will stop making films. I know the outcome is important and box office numbers are very important but what is most important is to have a good journey. I don’t consider it as work, filmmaking is something I love. That’s what keeps me going.
You just spoke about box office numbers. Your last film Hamari Adhuri Kahani didn’t do that well. Are you anxious about Half Girlfriend?
I agree that box office numbers are important because success is measured in money but there are certain things which you can’t really purchase, for example, people still tell me that they liked Aashiqui 2 and it wasn’t a 100 crore film. But it stayed beyond the life of many other films of mine. My expectation from Half Girlfriend is that I want people to love the film in such a way that even 10 years down the line people come and tell me what a film it was! I want it to stay in people’s hearts for long.
With Aashiqui 2 you created a very popular pair of Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapur. You are making a fresh pair with this film as well. Will Shraddha and Arjun Kapoor be equally a favourite with people?
I don’t know! You can never plan these things. As my uncle Mukesh Bhatt says, you can never plan a classic, classics get made! Similarly, you cannot plan a popular jodi, if people like them, connect to them, relate to them, then it will stay. I hope it does because in a love story it’s very important for the couple to be famous rather than one individual actor.
Why did you cast Arjun and Shraddha?
Shraddha has worked with me in a few films before but even today when she comes onto the set, she has same innocence which she had in Aashiqui 2. Now she is a star, she is popular and famous but she is still the same like she was in Aashiqui 2. What more can a director asks for when he gets the innocence of a newcomer with the potential of a star on his sets? Arjun Kapoor I felt had the right emotional impulses required for Madhav Jha’s character. It wasn’t about the look or the star power that he has. It’s the life he has lived with his mother bringing him up alone and being fat as a child but losing weight to become an actor, these are the emotional impulses which Madhav Jha’s character has.
The film’s music is already a hit. How excited are you?
I am really happy, especially because in a love story I think the music is very important as it plays a part in describing the love story. So I am happy that the music has touched people in the right way— it is not something that people are dancing to in clubs or playing at an event. It’s more connecting for people who are in a relationship. The music’s success is exciting but in the end it is the film which will do the talking.
Is that why you have kept so many songs in the film?
The film required songs as she plays a musician’s character, who escapes her life by playing music.
Why so many singers and composers for one album?
When I started my career, I never had the choice of working with one big music director. I always felt that music plays a very important role in films. That’s why I have always given a very high priority to music. Earlier when they used to not work with me, I started working with these new guys and then suddenly that style became something I have been doing in all my films. Aashiqui 2 had three, Ek Villain had four. I consciously launch one new music person with my every film as they connect to today’s generation.