Critic turned filmmaker Kunal Kohli has enjoyed an eventful career so far. He didn’t have a great beginning with Mujhse Dosti Karoge but rose from strength to strength as he found commercial and critical acclaim with Hum Tum and Fanaa. He faced disappointment once again with Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic though as a producer he had a decent success with Break Ke Baad. Now that he is returning as a director with Teri Meri Kahaani, all eyes are on whether he would be able to recreate the period magic here with his love story.
A story spreading over three eras… there is something special about the very ‘kahaani’ of Teri Meri Kahani.
Of course, different eras are the epicentre of the film. In fact, these eras take the story forward. I was always very keen to do a story which progresses like this. This is a setting that requires one to explore your creativity as a director. Teri Meri Kahaani gave me that opportunity.
You have earlier worked with quite a few senior actors like Aamir Khan, Kajol, Saif Ali Khan and Rani Mukerji. How was it interacting with Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra for whom the 1960s is an alien era?
I am very fortunate to work with such good actors. In fact, why just Aamir Khan, Kajol and others but even Rishi Kapoor and Tabu with whom I worked in Fanaa. Thankfully though, not only are all my actors truly fantastic, fortunately they also listen to me (laughs). After all, filmmaking is a team effort and though it is one person’s vision, it needs to be followed by an entire team to execute. At times, people come to you with their set ideas and want just that to be used. Now that becomes difficult as you wonder how your vision would be realised into a final product. Thankfully, my actors have always given me that liberty, come up with an open mind and asked – ‘Achcha Kunal, ab batao kya karna hai’.
Does Aamir also do that?
All of them, whether it is Aamir, Saif or now Shahid and Priyanka! Thankfully, I share a great personal rapport with them as well which makes me feel a lot easier to help them understand the requirement of the character. In fact, if you ask Shahid, even he would agree that in some scenes, he has just followed me (smiles). Not that he has enacted me but then he has listened to my brief very closely and then followed it to the ‘T’. Now this kind of attitude gives you a lot of confidence and a blank canvas to draw your vision.
While different time periods are indeed the mainstay of the film, what made you decide on 1910s, 1960s and then the current times.
Let me begin with 1910. See, time and again the pre-independence era has been shown for the freedom struggle and the independence movement. Movies depicting this era have shown the mood as out-and-out grim, even though there were love stories set in that era. I felt I could do something different because I am sure people would have fallen in love then too with as much happiness and joy as today. Even they would have worn colourful clothes and appreciated the weather around them.
How about the 60s?
60s as an era has not been explored in our movies to its merit. Though we have attempted to cover 60s and 70s in films before, they have been by and large spoofs. I think it was a rather interesting time. After all, just 13 years had gone by since our independence and people were still grappling with the idea of a new and free nation. We were coming to terms with the new identity of being an Indian. There was a simplicity and innocence in that atmosphere and I wanted to show that. I was also comfortable in doing that since I am a Mumbaikar and can imagine the city of that time. That old world charm attracted me and I have tried to recreate that.