Matrimonial ads aren't exactly known for their creativity or their ability to entertain. For debutant director Ali Abbas Zafar, however, the ads in the classified pages of newspapers were what inspired him to make Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.
'I used to see the matrimonial page of newspapers on Sundays. It's a very creative page. There are so many ads well written seeking brides or bridegrooms. It has ads of every caste and culture - be it Hindu, Muslim, Sikh - and what's most interesting is that all have almost the same requirement,' said Zafar.
'You will find entire India together in one page. It's so entertaining. Then I thought that if a film is made based on that subject it could be hugely entertaining with a lot of mass appeal,' he added.
The director also took inspiration from Hrishikesh Mukherjee's Chupke Chupke and Gol Maal while giving shape to his film, starring Imran Khan and Katrina Kaif.
'You will find some glimpses of those films because they are also family films, very sophisticated, clean films. My film has Dhoonki and Mere Brother Ki Dulhan like songs, but it's a clean and celebratory kind of movie,' he said.
His directorial debut, made under the Yash Raj Films (YRF) banner, releases September 9. Getting an opportunity to helm a film for the banner is all about luck, says Zafar.
'It's complete fate to get Yash Raj Films as producer and Imran, Katrina as his lead stars,' said the director who worked as an assistant in films such as Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Tashan, New York and Badmaash Company, all produced by YRF.
It took six months for Zafar to turn into a full-fledged director from an unsure assistant.
'I wrote it when I was finishing Badmaash Company. When I finished the film in March (2010), I gave the script to Adi (Aditya Chopra). He thankfully liked the script and I started shooting it in the middle of September. So it all happened in a span of six months,' he said.
The director wanted to avoid another star with Imran and Katrina and so he put Pakistan singer Ali Zafar in the cast with them.
'It's a three-actor film and Ali has a very important role. Imran and Katrina were getting paired for the first time; so we wanted a face that had not been seen at that light. Had I cast any star, people would say it's a very generic film.
'I wanted to bring that X amount of freshness. He has just played a role in Tere Bin Laden and people have liked his role. He is a good actor and a great singer... all these things were very calculative. He has also sung a song in this film.
'When I saw him in the Tere Bin Laden promo I had decided if this guy shows good work in the film, I am going to take him. After the film released, he came, met us, was liked by all and then we approached him. Being his first mainstream offer, he was excited, heard the script, liked it and came on board,' said Zafar, who studied biochemistry in college.
The idea of becoming a filmmaker came to him during his days in the theatrical society of Delhi University's Kirori Mal College.
'It is a very strong theatrical society where I did acting, directing, lights, sets - everything. When I did a couple of plays, I realised that this is what I want to do. So I dropped out,' said Zafar who hails from Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
Zafar is on his second script already. 'I am writing something, which is not comedy.'