You've completed two schedules of Saawariya…
Saawariya went on the floors after one year of pre-production. It's the most difficult film I've made so far, and not only because of the intricate sets on which we're working. After Black and its sensational performances by Amitabh Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee I'm working with rank newcomers. Ranbir, Sonam and I are like one big family. Being newcomers I made sure they were not inhibited about expressing themselves. It takes a little more time for them to grasp a scene. But being from illustrious film families their grasping power is remarkable for newcomers. Then I've great technicians like K. Ravi Chandar and Omang Kumar to light up my creativity. I've so far enjoyed myself so much shooting Saawariya I didn't want my two schedules to end.
There's so much curiosity about Saawariya!
I wonder why. A lot of people feel it's shrouded in mystery. I like to work in seclusion. If I constantly talk about my film will that help Saawariya? I'd rather put my energies into the creation rather than its declaration. We're very happy with what we've shot. People from Sony Pictures like Uday Singh came to the sets in Karjat. They loved what they saw. I'd rather put my energies into the creation rather than its declaration.
Do the newcomers make Saawariya a special challenge?
Yes , because every nuance of theirs is spontaneous. It's up to the director to cultivate their skills. Amitabh Bachchan is a master-performer. He never needed to be told anything. After working with Ranbir and Sonam I've become far more articulate and easy with words than I was during Black. I need to be far more expressive with these kids. They need to know what I want. And when they give the correct expressions they need to be told why they're correct. Some times I love them both. Other times I fire the hell out of them. I've become a far more real person with them because there's no reverent distance between us. I can express myself exactly how I want. Ranbir and Sonam have surrendered themselves completely to the screenplay. They've the right to say what they like to. And I've the same right.
Are Ranbir and Sonam giving you the level of performance that you want?
Oh completely! They've taken me completely by surprise. The decision to take Ranbir and Sonam was right. They look fresh and stunning as a pair. To watch them together is to bring so much joy , life and hope to my creativity. There's no ego ,only innocence and utter surrender before the camera. The hard work that the two kids are putting in , is amazing. I feel I'm moulding clay, watching it take unpredictable and exciting shape in front of me.
The fact that they belong to distinguished film families must count.
Oh yes! But the best thing about Ranbir and Sonam's parents is they never interfere. Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh and Anil-Sunita behave as though their kids are in boarding school. Absolutely hands-off . It's so wonderful to have two new actors who are all there, away from all distraction and completely at the disposal of this film. Because Ranbir and Sonam have never acted before they perform and react to the lines in a way that's completely theirs. An established actor would give me responses that I'm familiar with through his or her earlier work, whereas here every shot is a revelation. Suddenly they spring a completely unexpected expression. I've never been more alert as a filmmaker.
Lately you've been through some trying times…There was a court case against you issued by a furniture dealer.
Thank God for this country's judicial system. I can't say trying times are a part of my creative growth. But somehow troubles seem to hound me, chase me, follow me around even as I try to get away from my problems. Maybe that's my destiny. But I don't enjoy it at all. But it was a turbulent period because misinformation and accusations were being thrown around. I believe in the truth, and I'll get justice. Sadly a lot of other issues cropped up at the same time. My mother fell ill. I think the turbulence is a touchstone for an artist. It makes you realize that nothing can shake your faith. The focus never shifted from my work . I firmly believe the more people trouble me the better I get at my work. I've discovered new reserves of energy within me to guard my creativity and self-esteem. I've realized a human being has illimitable depths of inspiration as long as you continue to believe in yourself.
Were you lonely while you fought your legal battle?
Why should I expect everyone to leave his or her work to offer me a shoulder? Not everyone understood the gravity of my legal situation. It was my battle and I fought it. It felt reassuring when people like Amitji sent a message saying he's there for me. My colleagues were concerned for me. They'd never want one of them to go through this victimization just because we're known names.
Saawariya releases next Diwali?
Isn't that exciting! Every big film vies for a Diwali release. Unfortunately none of my films has been released during Diwali. Not that my film's release would've any less relevance if it was released at any other time. But Diwali is my favourite festival. And Saawariya launches two talented new kids. Plus it's a musical love story. Diwali feels like the right time for this one.