In conversation with writerRaajShaandilyaa, it’s been animmense transition for the man behind the camera from television to the silver screen. Raaj marks his directorial debut with ‘Dream Girl’ and talks to us, with regards to the film, changeover in the film industry,and collaboration with Ektakapoor amidst much more…

How did the idea of ‘Dream Girl’ materialise? 
I don’t know if people remember the timeOrkut existed.  During that time, one of my colleague use to talk to this girl day and night. And once he had told me about her, and that he is going to meet her soon. And when he did – he came to know that it was not a girl but a guy behind the phone who use to talk to. Undoubtedly he was raged at that moment and as time passed, I got busy with my work and so did he. In all this, one day my co-writer Nirmaan came to me and spoke about the same topic. As to how boy’s talk in girl’s voice and that there are videos been made on that. And he asked me, if we can do a film on this subject.  I was reluctant then, and I told him that we will have to see the possibilities of how the script will be made.  Because it wasn’t about one or two scenes, we had to make an entire story revolving around this guy who pretends to be a girl and how he gets into achaotic situation from which he finds a way out. So, this is how the idea got materialized.

‘Dream Girl’seems to be a quirky concept and entertaining, what do you think of this film as your directorial debut?
I always wanted to make a film that has humour, great message and having a middle class background. So, when I wrote ‘Dream Girl’; I thought, I can direct this film with all my heart and capacity. And the best part was when Ayushmann said, a ‘yes’ to this film. Then, I had one more motive to do this film. Since I have been doing comedy for many years now, and this film being of my genre; I was very comfortable to make my directorial debut with this film itself.

Your association withEkta Kapoor has been there for a while, how do you see further collaboration in coming time?
EktaKapoor is a very sensible producer, she knows good content, and she know everything about film-making.  We have a very good understanding, and she is quite flexible in terms of giving me the space to do my work. Since she knows I come from a comedy background, she never interfered and allowed me to do my work, my way.Working with Balaji team is one kind of amazing experience, andEkta has been very supportive throughout.  And we have already been collaborating, because the time I had narrated the story of‘Dream Girl’ to her,she had asked me to write for ‘Jabariya Jodi’. So, I look forward and we will certainly collaborate in coming time.

 Do you agree the industry has now become more welcoming for the newcomers and with that we get to witness a different aspect of Hindi cinema?
I believe in every industry there comes a change over,and it is important that it happens, especially in the film industry.  Where people like me, and other newcomers have an opportunity to share new ideas, to showcase things in a new way. So, the changeover is really refreshing, and now we see films are working because of its content and not because of big star cast. I feel this new change was much needed because previously the producers always trusted filmmakers who had the name, who were recognised; but now that’s no more the concern. Which is a great change in the industry and we are really happy about it.

Were there any apprehensions as a director?  Also, to direct AyushmannKhurrana and how is he as an actor? 
There were no apprehension, I was quite comfortable. And Ayushmann is director’s actor; he followed my instructions and did what he was asked to, he didn’t interfere or questioned my direction. One the first day of shoot, I was very nerves since I was directing for the first time and that too AyushmannKhurrana and Anu Kapoor and others. But after I directed the first shot and everyone applauded, that gave me confidence and I was relaxed; and was in mood to take it further.  And since then, we all got very comfortable with each other and made the film with much love and fun.

How happy are you with the way‘Dream Girl’ has turned out to be, from the scripting level to the final edit?
I am pretty much happy because what I have written is exactly executed on the screen. I am very satisfied with the outcome and whoever has seen the film so far, has really liked it. We are receiving positive reviews and it feels great. Can’t wait for the audiences to watch the film and love it.

As a director how will your approach towards films be after your first film?
I am writing my own films and I also write for others. Writing is my first love and I cannot live without it. I haven’t thought about how my approach will be in future, everything turns out organically and that’s the best way. CinemaInterviewsBollywood Trade Magazine