Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY

Tanuja Chandra is a bundle of energy and her exuberance easily rubs on to people around her.  She hails from a family – industry knows well.  We caught up with the writer – director for her forthcoming film ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ as she shared the nature and insights of the film.  Read on…

“The thing with Rom-Com films is if it's fake and is artificial western it won't strike a chord”

How did ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ materialise? 

My mother Kamna Chandra had written a radio play and I had always found the story really cute. It is a really cute story about a poet who remembers his past love and feels that they must still cry for them, when actually they are very happy. (laughs) so I found this idea really sweet. So my co writer Gazal and I, we both decided to work on it. But first I wrote the story out of that to make it contemporary, very important to root it in today’s India. Which is very different from 15 years ago. First made a story out of it then we started working on the screenplay.  Then came up with this cute romcom in which there are these two people in a way stuck in their past. He is stuck in his past thinking those 3 girls must be remembering him because he remembers them. And she also had somebody in her life. So for both it’s not first love.  And also it’s not necessary that your first love is your forever love. So it’s like love can be found anytime and it can be your second, third, fourth time and it can be the best love story of your life. And your past is very nice to remember so I say don’t forget the past, remember the past and greet it with great warmth and move on at the same. So find love and yet remember the past, so that’s the theme of the story.

What does the title denote?

It means sort of almost single or not yet single.  Because both the characters are still attached to the past and not fully single.

In terms of star cast what were you looking for? That you found in Irffan Khan and Parvathy?

Irrfan was in my mind for this character for sure because he is very Indian which is his main quality. And he is a shayar, funny and he has an interesting charm. A very unusal character which suited perfect with him and I’m very glad he said yes for this film.  And Parvathy, I had not seen her films but heard about her from my co writer and also my brother in law Vidhu Vinod Chopra who had tested her for some project; so he said she is an interesting actress so I saw some of her films and I liked her because she is very strong, bright actor and also I liked that she is so different from Irrfan which is what the two characters are. So I went to meet her in Cochin. She is a very well known south actress but in bollywood it’s her first film.

Was it easy for you to get Irrfan onboard?

No, it’s never easy (Laughs) so first I had send him synopsis and then gave him my screenplay upon which we were constantly working.  He took his time to think upon and say yes.

How interesting is it to work with Irrfan Khan and do you think he is a director’s actor?

The great thing and interesting thing about him is his command over the language because he just knows Hindi so well so what happens whatever improvisation he does comes from inside and it’s really great stuff so you can totally trust him. There will be some dialogues which he will say really well but his humour is such that sometimes you don’t know that he is trying to be funny.  For example in a serious scene he would believably laugh and in funny scene he would be very serious and believable so he is very unpredictable. That’s the fun part of him and as an actor it’s exciting. And now after editing I noticed there are things that reveal themselves onscreen slowly slowly. It’s very weird and unusual that somebody’s performance which is captured is not changing but its changing so it’s actually growing. So I find that to be an amazing quality as an actor.  He is constantly questing and trying to improve the work. He is a very invested actor which I think is really good. Parvathy on the other hand is very amazing south Indian ethic, hardworking, never late. And I being a very pushy director I extend work till it’s over and she had the power to take my pressure and I’m really happy with her final result.

There’s always a certain benchmark which is set – when Irrfan is in a film, the audience expects a certain quality of cinema. How do you feel about that?

It’s a good thing that people set a benchmark with Irrfan’s films because it has some social context and there is a certain realism in his films – the way I also like to make movies especially with the Rom-Com’s. The thing with Rom Com films is if it’s fake and is artificial western, it won’t strike a chord.

Which process you enjoy the most?  Writing – directing? 

Writing is by far the toughest process and in that you are not satisfied ever. Direction is a lot of fun in a sense there is a lot of tension, deadlines, travel from location to location. So there are a lot of things and it’s a team. You deal with 100 people so all the heads of those 100 people have to do their job so beautifully in order that my film is good.  So I depend on other people. I can’t make a movie on my own so I need to bring out the best in those people. That is also a difficult job but it’s exciting and happening. You also grow very close to the crew. Every movie has given me friendship of life time so that’s lovely.

What will audience take back from this film?

I hope a smile because that’s what you want in a rom-com because when two people are falling in love. You won’t be able to laugh when it’s funny and also smile throughout and be touched by them and hope that they end up together. And keep hope in your heart that love should keep happening. That honours the past and same time moves towards the future so this theme if people keep in their hearts I’ll be very happy. (Smiles)

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