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Inspired by the French film

Inspired by the French film
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Rohan Sippy, director of 'Nautanki Saala' shares his views about the film and says it's a story of bonding and friendship, inspired by the French film...

rohanRohan Sippy, director of 'Nautanki Saala' shares his views about the film and says it's a story of bonding and friendship, inspired by the French film 'Apres Vous'. I just liked the relationship between the two characters. Later I realised that 'Bluffmaster' was a pairing of two different kinds of actors Abhishek and Riteish, 'Taxi No 9211' which we produced was between John and Nana. In a sense this was again a nice odd couple, buddies. I didn't think about in these terms when I was doing it. Later I realised there was this pattern but I enjoyed and telling these kind of stories, he shares
How did you adapt it to the Indian setting? Did you have to make many changes?
The major change was the theatre setting while the French film was set in a bistro in a Parisian atmosphere which was something not relatable in India. It was Kunaal who first came up with the idea that maybe we could translate that into theatre. I said wow, that's a great idea as it will open up a whole new range of possibilities. It became a new kind of film even though it was still a remake of that. There was a lot of masala we could play with.
You also mentioned you are inspired by the film 'Shakespeare in Love'.
Great films on theatre are an inspiration. Anyway 'Shakespeare in Love' is one of my favourite films. 'Nautanki Saala' is nothing compared to that in ambition or treatment. 'Shakespeare in Love' is just a perfect film about theatre. It must have been challenging to work on theatre as a backdrop for this film?
It was but it was also fun. There's very little from the actual scenes from the play � only two scenes are there from the play. The rest of it is the fun that goes in is behind the scenes, before the show, after the show. In the whole world of theatre how people are backstage. Those are the fun things we really wanted to connect with and may be see real life comedy and drama is happening off stage.
Essentially it's a rom.com and a comedy of errors is it?
It's a situational comedy. There's a romantic confusion at the heart of it. It's not over the top. There are quite witty lines well delivered and performed by our actors. That's what I'm hoping people will relate to. The screenplay is written by you and two others... Nipun and Charudutt Acharya were the other two. We used the Ravan-leela play. Using the adaptation of the Ramayan from Ravan's point of view.
What determined the casting of Ayushmann and Kunaal Roy Kapur? Were they the first choices?
When I met up with Ayushmann after 'Vicky Donor' I just felt, especially after seeing the film that he had this great natural comic timing. I was confident that I could do good work with him. I've known Kunaal for a long time. He directed our film 'The President is Coming'. Kunaal is a terrific comic actor. It was always at the back of my head that I had to find a part for him for us to work together. So it started off there. And these two got along well.
Did the workshops and play-reading sessions help in this?
Yes, it was of massive help. Three weeks of time spent together. It was a whole bunch of us together including the writers. So whatever was not understandable or lines had to be improved was all sorted out. It was a laboratory for us to keep tinkering till we were happy to go on to the floors. This was something I did for the first time and it was a brilliant experience.
Was it also because of theatre that you had to do these workshops?
Not so much. For me it was more so because we were working together for the first time. There's less pressure when you can meet and talk about in a workshop than on the sets. So you had your pre-production in place to get on to the sets? Yes, especially on the performance side which for me was the focus of the film. The thing I enjoy in comedy is performances and writing so I let the focus be on that. Rehearsals were invaluable in helping with that. There are three girls in the film Pooja, Evelyn, Gaelyn in the film who are newcomers... Yes, they are all pretty much first-timers. As part of working in a tighter budget you get to introduce new talent.
Ayushmann has sung two songs in the album?
Yes, one has been composed by Mikey. Ayushmann has done a great job on this one which is a 60s kind of crooner track. He also brought another song which he and Rochak composed in college. Abhishek is not just your childhood friend but your lucky mascot as well but he appears in a cameo in this film in a song called 'Dramebaaz'. Well he's there in a scene and one shot in a song.
You also make a short appearance in this song?
(laughs) Yes, I was emotionally blackmailed by my cast to do one shot. It's nice as practically the whole cast is there in this shot. It's almost a blink and miss role. Like Hitchcock used to do in his films years ago (laughs). The focus should be to make films as good as Hitchcock. Cameos will take care of themselves.
What was your father's involvement in the project?
As much as in all the films. He is very much the senior producer of the film � from the idea, script to watching the rehearsals, he was around at all stages lending his experience and wisdom to guide us all in aspects. You seem to have enjoyed making 'Nautanki Saala'. I did. I've realised one thing you have no control over the fate of the film but you can enjoy and learn through the process. I've learnt a lot and most importantly worked with a bunch of terrific guys- be it technicians or actors.
Why didn't you cast him as he's played the lead in three films directed by you? Or is it because you wanted to cast new actors?
Casting was right for the film. Abhishek in any case was very tied up for a while. What next now? The next is a production of a film directed by my friend Charudutt Acharya which will start sometime this month. It's an underdog story set in Mumbai. It's a really good script. I'm working on a couple of texts to direct. I'm hoping something will happen quickly. -RR
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