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Verve Man
February 11, 2016

Abhishek Kapoor Talks Fitoor

Text by Shraddha Jahagirdar-Saxena

On the eve of the release of Fitoor, director-writer Abhishek Kapoor speaks about matters close to his heart

On what distinguishes Fitoor, a movie set in Kashmir
“I don’t know of another movie with a similar backdrop. Movies have been shot in Kashmir, but Kashmir can be cinematically interpreted in so many ways – it can be taken for its geographical beauty, political scenario, its music. I am using it for its geographical grandeur, its energy, its timelessness. It is a place that seems to have stopped in time.”

On Fitoor being inspired by Charles Dickens
“Every time I make a movie, I try to think of what I should do, I try to create a new world. Rock On!! was very different from Kai Po Che!. Fitoor has its own, and different, world. It is based on Great Expectations, a work that I had visited in my childhood. It had has? stayed with me because the characters (Pip, Estella and Miss Havisham) are so complex. There is a kind of chain reaction in the way they influence each other. It was a meaty story. I found it quite challenging.”

On exploring the darker side of love
“Let’s not call it dark – I would call it passionate. It is deep. I had to go quite within the original characters to find out why they are the way they are. The story helped me to explore the aspirations, class elements that are prevalent in our country – all these factors were there when Dickens wrote Great Expectations.”

On his lead pair
“The decisions about whom to cast are taken by instinct. I just go with the flow. The casting comes out of the characterisation, once the script is written. I used to meet Katrina (Kaif) socially, and once I had finished scripting it, I happened to tell her that I was adapting the book. She had read it in her childhood; it was one of her favourites. For all the beautiful women in the world, Katrina is aspirational. As for Aditya, he has this inherent innocence and purity.”

On Tabu, as Miss Havisham
“She’s such a director’s actor. She is so generous on the sets; you can make her do anything and she will put her heart and soul into it.”

On doing films based on books
“It is not really an advantage. When you are writing your own original story, you can go into any direction and explore nuances. No one can judge you or compare your work with someone else’s. When you take on a book, especially one that is a classic, everyone’s read it and has their own take on it.”

On his most challenging film
“Every film is challenging. Whether the movie costs 3 crores, 30 crores or 300 crores, it takes the life out of me, because I have to give it 100 per cent. It’s like a child and you are not going to give one child more than the other. You just give them everything. And they all suck the same amount of energy out of you.”

Biggest strength as a director
“The team I work with; I’m humbled by the fact that I get to work with such beautifully talented people who bring so much to the table.”

On directing after having been an actor
“I do not know if that helps me to direct better. I am sure that somewhere it must be; but I’m not able to analyse it. I do not know how other directors work, because I have not been on other directors’ sets. I have my own style. I think I’m quite erratic sometimes, but I think that is okay as long as I get the job done.”

On the lows, before the highs
“Those were very dark days. When you fail as an actor in this country, people look at you as if you have failed as a human being. If I was doing some other business like selling shoes and if I had made a loss, I would have just cut my losses and moved on. But when you fail as an actor, you’re just looked upon as a failure in life. I did not come from another town, I was born here, my family is from here; my friends are also from the industry. So I didn’t have anywhere to go, or hide my face. It was quite a dark period. My dad and I used to fight a lot at that time. I used to live off him and with him. Then at one point I just sat down and wrote a story. I believed in it so much that I felt it should be made. Somehow I chased it – it took me five years to finish that first movie, Aryan: Unbreakable; it didn’t do well at the box office, but I felt great that I had completed it and that it had got released. From there, I wrote another story. And I did Rock On!!…”

On trying other options
“At one point I tried to do a dot-com business – then the dot-com crash came, so I lost my opportunity there as well. And it was an online ticketing site, and an online talent management site – content and all of that…. But I just couldn’t raise the money at that time for it.”

On his biggest support
“My mother. She always believed in me. She believes in me even now. She thinks I can do anything!”

SMALL TALK

First film he saw:Sholay. I am still reeling from it. It is my most favourite movie ever.”

Actors grown up watching: “Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Gregory Peck, Charles Bronson, Bruce Lee, Rishi Kapoor and my uncle, Jeetendra.”

A film he wishes he would have made: “Can’t think of anything right now.”

Most in awe of, professionally: “Steven Spielberg and Clint Eastwood.”

Song playing in his head:Phoolon ka taaron ka…. It celebrates a different relationship.”

Biggest inspiration: “My mother. She’s so full of positivity.”

Movies he watches repeatedly: “So many! I love Raj Kapoor films! He had such great stories to tell!”

Movie last seen:Burnt, by John Wells, starring Bradley Cooper.”

His definition of romance: “It does not mean as much to me as love does. I think there are two kinds of people in love – the takers and the givers. The givers are far more happier than the takers.”

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