'As a child, I longed to be part of the film industry'

Candid Man

'As a child, I longed to be part of the film industry'

Being Sashadhar Mu­kh­erjee’s (one of the pioneers of Indian cinema) grandson and the son of actor Deb Mukherjee was not exactly like being a Kapoor, says director Ayan Mukerji who doesn’t have any ‘glamorous’ childhood memories and instead grew up ‘longing’ to have access to the movers and shakers in the industry.

“While I come from a family deeply rooted in cinema and my grandfather was a very big figure, in my father’s generation, with the exception of my uncle Joy Mukherjee, they were not that successful. It wa­sn’t like being Rishi Kap­o­or’s son,” says Ayan.

His grandfather owned the Filmalaya studios, while his uncle Shomu Mukherjee, fat­her to Kajol and Tannisha, made films like Sangdil Sanam and Pathar Ke Insaan but they were not so successful. Recalling his strugg­l­es, Ayan, 29, says he didn’t have any access to key people in the industry. “I didn’t get exposure to the best film sets. My memories of being a film industry child was a longing to actually be a part of the industry. To have access to people who were making and shaking things,” said the dir­e­­ctor, who hit bull's eye with his debut, Wake up Sid produced by Dharma Productions.

There was never a time when the ‘Mukherjee’ surname helped him. “While gro­w­ing up, there was no Mukh­e­r­jee surname. The way our industry works, they don’t ba­nk on the success which came 20-30 years back. It is a very brutal space. While growing up, this was my complex.”

Did being Kajol’s and Rani Mukerji’s cousin help? “Their being a part of films didn’t help me at all. When I wanted to work with Karan (Johar) as an assistant, neither of them called him for me. I got my job like anyone else... I am sure when he heard that I am related to them, he must have had a good feeling about it. But honestly, there was no extra leg up I got from them,” he says.

Talking about his childhood, Ayan mentions that he was almost embarrassed about his family being part of the film industry. “I used to be embarrassed to say that my family was involved with films. Good families looked down upon Hindi films. But when I joined the industry, I found people over here to be so mu­ch more modern, friendly, appreciative of good work,” he admits.

Today, the young director is all set to release Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani which brings together ex-lovers Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor. Like Wake up Sid, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani has a strong father-son track. “My relationship with dad has been a very instrumental relationship. He was a big influence in my life,” he says.

“Making me excel was his priority. It was very central in the confidence that I have today.”

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