Vivid aspirations

DIRECTORIAL DEBUT

NEW IDEAS: Roshan Abbas

You know him as the television and radio anchor, the playwright and live show host. But, after a few months — April or May to be precise — Roshan Abbas will become the second director after Farah Khan to be launched by Shah Rukh Khan, who is the producer of the upcoming film, Always Kabhi Kabhi. How did this happen? “Last year, I was the host for Shah Rukh Khan’s shows in USA, UK and Singapore,” replies Roshan. “We would discuss films and I casually told him that I had this script about four adolescents. He told me to meet him once we were back in Mumbai for a narration. Seven days later, Shah Rukh heard the story and he loved it. But since I had written the script in 1999, it had to be updated to suit the sensibilities of viewers today. For example, there was a song I had thought of about pagers that were used at that time, however, they are obsolete now. Shah Rukh was also pretty clued in about youngsters today and gave his own inputs based on his interactions with his son and fans. We spent six months firming up the script and another six months in pre-production and casting.”

Roshan says that the inclusion of a star-cum-big-name-producer like Shah Rukh Khan in such a film was vital. “We did not have big names in the cast. Yet, the project had to look attractive,” says the filmmaker.

Do Shah Rukh or any other top names make cameos in his film? “I cannot reveal that,” smiles Roshan. For Roshan, what is special is that he shot most of the film in his own school, La Martiniere, early last year. The climax was wrapped up in Mumbai in November 2010.

The music (by Pritam) was to be released on Valentine’s Day 2011, but they decided against it as the film will be released only after three months. “Pritam was really excited about doing something new. His market clout and his music’s massy appeal are the assets of my film,” says Roshan.

The making

Why did it take him 11 years to make Always Kabhi Kabhi? “Making films has always been my dream,” reveals Roshan. “I have actually done my post-graduation in film direction. But Usha Albuquerque, a good friend, roped me in as television anchor for Hum Honge Kaamyab soon after I completed the course. As it was lucrative, I kept doing it!” he adds.
In 1999, he conducted a workshop in New Delhi to teach theatre, radio and how to write a play, which proved to be a huge hit. “Neha Dhupia, Cyrus Sahukar, Gaurav Kapoor and Sameer Kochhar were among those who participated,” recalls Roshan. “I interacted with my students and we discussed about the issues youngsters deal with today — communication problems with parents, how girls complain that their beauty alone has become their identity. All these insights helped me conceptualise Graffiti, a 10-song musical in English.” He adds further, “That’s when I thought that I should write a film on the same play, but I got busy with radio, TV and other shows and hence the delay in making Always Kabhi Kabhi.”

Projecting newcomers

Always Kabhi Kabhi is a story that revolves around class 12 students. “The film has four principal characters, which are completely relatable — a girl who is fancied by everyone, the teacher’s pet, the student who takes a shortcut to everything, and the girl, who is dreaded by students, but has a heart of gold,” says Roshan. These characters are essayed by newbies — Gisellie Monteiro (of Love Aaj Kal fame), Ali Fazal, who has a theatre background, Satyajit Dubey (Satyadev Dubey’s grandnephew) and Zoa Morani, daughter of Karim Morani of Cineyug, which is a production company. The strong supporting cast includes Lillette Dubey, Navneet Nishan, Manoj Joshi, Mukesh Tiwari, Satish Shah and Vijay Raaz.

Brazilian beauty Gisellie has already been Saif Ali Khan’s lady-love in Love Aaj Kal. How will she look convincing in a school uniform? “You have to watch my film for that!” smiles Roshan. “She went through a gruelling audition without any complaints. On the contrary, she said that she was happy because I invested so much effort into her audition. She knew I would do the same while working with her on the film.”

How would he define his directorial style? “My film addresses issues and has corresponding messages, but cinematically, it is a contemporary film for the youth. Therefore, it’s not heavy, but a light-hearted film. I still bond with the youth through my plays and Shah Rukh knows their language very well. All I am doing is making an entertaining Hindi film.”

How does he explain the title? “There is a line in my film that goes, ‘Kabhi kabhi jo dil kahe, always woh kare’ (Always follow the occasional message from your heart). Secondly, I have found that the lives of   today’s generation are a paradox. The youth today is a mixture of opposites — they can be respectful and disrespectful, loving and quarrelsome, and have strong friendships, but are also prone to break-ups!”

Now, bitten by the cinema bug, Roshan will keep making films. “I have lots of ideas that I plan to work on a few once Always Kabhi Kabhi releases. But that does not mean that I have bid goodbye to theatre or television,” he says.

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