Here we are in Lucknow, on the set of ‘Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai’ and one doesn’t really see 12 main characters in a film played by a terrific bunch of actors. Well, that, clearly is the biggest USP of this one. The crew has been here since about a month and the film has almost wrapped up, within a span of 24 days. We see Richa Chadda donning a stunning party dress, and then there’s Prateik Babbar in a formal attire, along with some noted actors like Saurabh Shukla, Vinay Pathak, Divya Dutta, Pawan Malhotra, Manoj Pahwa, Kumud Mishra, Pankaj Tripathi, Dilip Prabhavalkar and Shriya Pilgaonkar. A political satire, ‘Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hai’ is written-directed by Anubhav Sinha. And he also produces the film along with Sony Pictures Networks. We caught up with the captain of the ship and the actors on the set in Lucknow and while they didn’t reveal much about the film, here’s what they have to say about the overall experience so far and why they came on board! Read on…

Anubhav Sinha

“It was an old story idea and it’s slightly mad. Not slightly, but completely. I wasn’t sure if I should make it so I gave it to some friends, and also some director friends and asked if I should make it. And all of them said, make it immediately. Then I started writing it. I narrated this script to a dear friend of mine, Sudhir Mishra and the fi rst thing he said is this is not a director’s fi lm. This is a writer’s fi lm and a fi lm for actors. So bring a great bunch of actors and let them go ballistic and they have gone ballistic.”

Richa Chadda

“I was dying to do a comedy again after ‘Fukrey’. Here, I am playing this really dumb girl for the first time, and she is tipsy, and wearing a party dress all through the film, so it’s funny and a complete comic caper. What’s great about this film is that Anubhav sir is making this such a collaborative effort. He would call us on set for a scene and tell us, that this is a scene, how should we go about it? And we would all come up with funny things. We can start doing different things, there is so much experimentation. This is not an artsy film. This is a commercial, funny film and how to bring intelligence, wit in that is the point. Everyone is on the same wavelength. The great thing about this team is, they don’t just talk about themselves but they also suggest for each other. If so many good actors have agreed to come together for a film, the script must be good right? So, hope the audience feels that.

Vinay Pathak

“It’s a well written script. When the screenplay, dialogues and everything has been written so meticulously then an actor’s job gets sorted. The interpretation of characters that we are playing is there from the script level and we do it with the help of the technical team and everyone. But yes, the great thing about the fi lm is that it’s a fantastic ensemble. And after a long time, I’m working with an ensemble where the work has become great joy, it’s not work. The script is written for an ensemble. But what has happened, is that most of us are friends. This is my 11thfi lm with Saurabh Shukla. And I’ve worked with most of them. Every actor is different, their background is different but because there is that familiarity and it’s not a big blockbuster kind of film, the joy is immense. I sincerely feel that when you do a film and on the set you do a lot more than just shoot a film, it’s very special”

Shriya Pilgaokar

“I would say that the hangover of this party will stay for a long time. At a party, the way you meet different kinds of people, here people will relate to the characters in some way or the other, how to be, how not to be, the audience will learn a lot. And whether learning or not learning, they will have a blast. It’s been great to see how these actors have transformed what’s on paper onto the screen and brought the characters alive. For me it’s been a great learning.”

Saurabh Shukla

“As Vinay said, everything stems out of the script, so that should make a point to you. I think the beauty of this medium is that it’s a collaborative. The kind of director Anubhav is, he collaborates. There are 12 very profound actors in the film. There are very good actors everywhere but to have these actors who are also known as thinking actors, on one platform and also entertainers is great. We all have collaborated well. The interesting thing for me is that, this is not the kind of role I’ve ever done. So, for me also, this is a new ground. Yes, there are difficulties as well, fear of the unknown and that’s what an artist looks for. Because finally, if it succeeds, then the audience meets you and says that you’ve done something different and they’ve not seen something like that so far in my filmography. It’s a political satire, but usually it comes with a condition, that only people of a certain age group understand a political satire but the beauty of this film is that children are going to lap it up. The way the scenes are constructed, it has enough material even for the youth and children. We have all worked in big films which have done a big business, every actor in this film is seasoned, they know their work. It’s great to have a team but the experience brings you to a certain platform. So, if he improvises something, I know how to take that further. That’s wonderful. There was this fi lm called ‘Magnifi cent Seven’, and in that everyone coming together was wonderful, it worked like magic. When this fi lm comes out, the audience will decide but when these films work, it doesn’t happen every day, so that’s what I am really excited about. I would say, it’s a party and the best part of it is that, it’s not going to end”

Divya Dutta
I just heard from Anubhav that he wants to send me a script and it’s been a desire to work with him always. I read it and just locked it in about three hours flat. It’s a script you really want to belong to, so this film has that, he has that. Even at the script level, he adds so many nuances when you’re shooting, that you want to be directed by him. It’s like a crazy thing with him playing music on the set, coming with ideas because I have chewed his brain, I’m sure every actor has. Because this is such a script, that you really want to do more than you can because this is so good. You want to excel in what you are doing so you want to hold on to the captain of the ship and ask him how you can be better. So, he has these 12 greedy actors pouncing on him and he is doing beautifully well, he’s wrapped the film in 24 days. Actors always want to outdo themselves, so there’s this streak of competition but that’s healthy competition. Secondly, when you sit with actors like these, you can actually sit with each other and suggest. There’s comfort in that here. It feels like a family. The whole madness is such that I thought it’s going to be a straight film for me but when I go into that mad world which he has created, you can’t but not jump into it. You are so eager to. You’re like, even I want to do this. People will be like, tumne yeh pagalpan kiya tha kya? It’s mad and it’s delightful. I don’t think actors can be that uninhibited in any other circumstance. It is like this on this set.”

Prateik Babbar
I think all the actors had something in common while reading the script. We had laughed out like crazy. That was my instant connect to the script and story that if I’m laughing so much then I should do it. I just wanted to grab the opportunity of working with Anubhav sir, and this story with such great actors. I am too young and inexperienced, so it’s been a huge learning and I’m just in awe of everyone. Everyone has put their best foot forward and that energy rubs off. It’s a tough film to shoot when you have 11-12 primary actors and characters but Captain Sinha here has pulled it off. The energy he brings, is unparalleled. Every director is stressed, that’s a given when you shoot a film but it never showed. He was there, with the most positive energy and he was excited for every scene he was shooting”

Pawan Malhotra

This is the first time I’m working with Anubhav but I’ve known him for a while. And then I was happy to be working with these like-minded people. Their approach towards work is the same. Even after the shoot, we were all having fun. Everyone was relaxed, while working also, on set. We all thought we were all happy with the process. Most of the people come from the same background and have had a similar journey. The film is fun but it has a message. It’s like, we will tickle and slap.

Manoj Pahwa
“I was excited about this team but there was also this fear because everyone is such a good actor, it could happen that sometimes too many cooks spoil the broth. There are chances and that’s what I was scared about. Because what if the equation doesn’t fall into place? But it turned out to be a healthy competition. Even during the reading, we felt, everyone gelled so well and had mutual respect for each other.”

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