Ayan Mukherjee Curated
Indian Film Director
CURATED BY :
What advice would you give to a complete outsider who wants to make films?
Are films, a passion for you or is it like a way of life, as you've seen it always since childhood?
What kind of movies would you like to make in future?
You started as an assistant director for 'Swades', how did that happen?
Do you think the approach of storytelling in Indian cinema has changed compare to the old cinemas?
Did the tag of being successful actresses Kajol's and Rani's cousin help him?
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.
How best does one write and direct a romantic comedy?
I don’t think of my film as a comedy or a romance or a romantic-comedy. I guess it falls into the latter heading only because our genre headings are limited. I think my film is actually a romantic drama, romance being the biggest element of the story.
What was it like growing up in the Mukherjee household and then making an entry into films?
Our family was born on the outskirts of Bollywood. We worked in films but it didn’t open doors for me like being Rishi Kapoor’s son would. I come from a family where no one was overarchingly successful. We were not a prosperous film family. I think my grandfather (Sashadhar Mukherjee) saw success, but not the generation after that. I was too shy and embarrassed to even watch the movies my father (Deb Mukherjee) acted in and I felt very shy if anyone spotted my dad in a movie. Working in this industry is a lot about luck and knowing the right people, which is why many talented people don’t get the right opportunity. I was obsessed with making it because I knew that the chance of not making it was very high.
Isn’t there a formula that you have to check off when writing a film?
Not consciously. I generally follow my desire to do something fun. When you are setting up a film, it’s a world you are attracted to and I wanted to capture those moments of hanging out with friends, a special evening when you start falling in love on a beach, a party, being high on life. I walked away from Wake Up Sid knowing there was something more I wanted to express. But now I do feel I won’t make another film in this zone. This film is my exorcism of the youth film.
You've had a complicated childhood. How's it affected you?
The story of my childhood is more complex than any movie ever made. My mother (Amrit Mukerji) is and was a strong and independent woman. She came from Delhi in the '50s to make her life. She didn't come from a sophisticated background. She belonged to a 'no money' and completely Hindi background. But for that, she lived a progressive life. She was married once before and had three children. Then she met my father, she had a divorce and married him. My half brother committed suicide. That's my mother's side of the story. My generation doesn't know my grandfather S Mukerji (legendary filmmaker) well. Whenever I meet anyone from the older generation like Rishi Kapoor and Javed Akhtar, they recall him as a central figure in the industry. We were one of those big film khandaans, which fell on bad days. I've cousins who have done exceptionally well, like Kajol. But I also have many cousins who didn't do well. A shadow of failure had fallen on my father's side of the family. There were lovely, happy guys but they weren't successful.
Tell us about your relation with Ranbir Kapoor.
My friendship with Ranbir is extremely strong We don't chat every day. I can ask him for anything as easily i'd ask my parents. Over the years, you see friendships souring in our industry. I hope that's not the case with Ranbir and me. I hope we've established a friendship for life. He's my only best friend, he's the only person who knows exactly what's happening with me and I know what's happening with him. There's a great assurance in that feeling. It's a great connection. I'm proud of him. His success is my success. I'm anxious every time he has a release. I feel extremely jealous when he works with other directors. I feel he should only work with me. The one thing that makes me happy about YJHD is that he and I didn't make a flop product.
Your movie 'Yeh Jawani' is the third biggest hit in the history of Indian cinema. How was the journey?
Had this film not worked, it would have made me feel lost. I'd have felt that I couldn't connect with India. With my first film Wake Up Sid (WUS) I was led on to the Bollywood bus, even though I was just about hanging onto it. There were times when I thought I would have to get off the bus. Now I believe I have a seat in the bus. My film has received acceptance. I have taken a step closer to popular entertainment. I find myself less pretentious as a person. I made WUS with equal honesty but there's a degree of cleverness there. With YJHD, it was a fuller expression.