Mohit Suri Curated
Indian film directors.
CURATED BY :
When can we expect 'Aashiqui 3'?
When did you buy your first house?
Why do you make less movies?
I am sure you had 25 odd scripts in front of you, why did you pick Half Girlfriend?
I think some things just work with coincidence and for this, the credit must go to Chetan Bhagat. I think he cast me. He gave me the book before the book was formally launched and at that time I had thought that judging by the title of the book, it must be a romcom. I was actually wondering why has he given me the book. But when I read the book, it had pathos and angst, which Chetan had noticed in my films, plus there was this whole musical angle too in the book. Then Chetan approached me and said that I was the most suitable person to direct the film. That is the precise reason people were shocked when they saw the trailer. They were expecting something light hearted but they got some intensity. I like surprising people. Be it turning Riteish into a villain, or changing the chocolate boy image of Sidharth in Ek Villain, or even casting Adi and Shraddha for Aashiqui 2.
How was the phase between the release of HAK and picking Half Girlfriend as your next project?
To be honest, I don’t know what to do with myself when I am not making a film. It was not because of the setback of HAK but the fact that my role was changing. From a director I was turning into a producer. The whole decision making process was taking a little longer and that’s why I admire Mukesh Ji and Bhatt Saab. They have made 60 odd films in such a short span of time. I still had Chetan (Chetan Bhagat) and Ekta by my side. The process took almost a year to start so I was very lost at that point of time. I don’t blame anyone for the failure but myself. I was just lost, not making a film and not being on the sets but that’s what came out of my film. I started a music label called EMI music along with Universal where I am launching new talents. I channel my energy in different things and that has given me a lot of satisfaction today.
If there was a tug of war between Ekta Kapoor and Mukesh Bhatt over you, who do you think will win the game?
Well I will always give credit to Mukesh Ji for making me who I am today. Well I can’t forget the fact that I was ek raaste par baitha hua ladke tha and he was someone who picked me up. I had no clue what I wanted from life. My father was not around and my mother was no more. I was quite lost as everyone in this country at the age of 16 and 17 is. I still remember I was travelling alone in my car for the trailer launch of Half Girlfriend and I was thinking about it. The only thing I could feel was gratitude towards Ekta and Bhatt saab. There is no tug of war here, whoever I am, whatever I am is because of what they have taught me.
Which car are you driving these days?
Right now I have a Range Rover that was gifted to me by Ekta Kapoor.
When you were directing your first film, I was there on the sets. It’s been some journey for you. Now when people call you a hotshot director, how do you react?
Actually you feel more pressure. With success comes more responsibility and I find it unbelievable when people say that they find themselves more confident after success. I still remember you took my first interview when I was directing my first film and I clearly remember you asking me that what will I do if the film fails? It was only later I realized that I had not thought about it. It was an innocent phase where you are not aware of the meaning of a hit or flop. I knew nothing and I was only 22 years old. I was happy making a film. I think, after you are successful, you realize that people are watching you, judging you and then there is the pressure to deliver, be it your film or music or performances. Sometimes you miss the innocence you had in the beginning but very few people will admit to it. What I have realised in the last 12 years of making and directing films is that I am in a profession that I really love. I can wake up in my sleep and go direct. By the way, I had no car when you first met me.
Would you like to try your hands on some unexplored genres of films?
I don’t go by the genre I want to do. I have done romantic films like ‘Aashiqui 2’ and ‘Half Girlfriend’, thrillers like, ‘Ek Villain’ and ‘Malang’, even horror film like ‘Raaz’. So I don’t think we should sit and think about the genre. I would love to do a biopic though and also a comedy film if I find the right script. I just want to do that seems good at the moment. It is going to take one year of your life, it should be worth it.
What are your opinions on the latest trend of remixing old songs in Bollywood?
I don’t have any problem with it. I am actually not against it or for it. My daughter dances on many of these recent remixes. At the same time, I also feel there should be a more organised pattern of doing it. The original makers should be given the due credit and royalties should be shared. When you replicate only past formulas of success, you will have nothing to lead in the future. If you really see it that way, ‘Kabir Singh’ is a prime example to say the popular music last year was all originals. Bhushan Kumar has never asked me to remix an old song.
How you do you choose the music for your movies?
I have never called any music director and asked for anything. I have always told them what the situation is. I cast the music directors depending on who is good for which song. When I started off my career, the big guys won’t work with me. So I started working with all the new guys. What I have maintained throughout is that I give one new musical talent a platform through my film, be it Arijit Singh or Ankit Tiwari. I am constantly aware of what’s relevant to the youth.
Q: How did it all start between you and Mithoon? Where did you guys meet?
Mohit Suri: Mithoon’s father (Naresh Shar ma, a leading expert of musical arrangements) and Mukeshji (Mukesh Bhatt, Suri’s maternal uncle) know each other very well, they had worked together on Aashiqui (1990). So, when I was working on my first feature film, Zeher, people weren’t taking me seriously and were refusing to work with me saying that children don’t make films. Eventually, I met Mithoon, who was 19-year-old then and was doing background score on some other film. I saw him sitting on programming machine and I don’t know how, but it worked from thereon. He created Woh Lamhe in Zeher and Aadat in Kalyug. Mithoon: We started at the same time, with the same film. When he saw me I wasn’t composing, I was pretending to compose. (laughs).
A few years ago, you were writing a film for Karan Johar. What’s happening on that front?
I write films and pitch them to people, based on what they like and don’t like. Some people make it and some don’t. It’s not like every film I write, I make immediately. Sometimes, I come back to it. I had written Malang but I was not getting the right cast and timing to make it. My job as a filmmaker is to keep writing and making films. I don’t stop that process. When Karan approves the script that I have written, I will make the film with him.
Ek Villain 2 has an all-new cast - Aditya Roy Kapur and John Abraham. Is it a standalone sequel or will it take off from the events of Ek Villain?
It has references of the previous film but what Ekta (Kapoor, producer) and I tried to do is build a couple of badass villains who can play heroes. We wanted to create antiheroes or dark superheroes in a realistic space. I loved all the guys I worked with - Riteish, Sid and everyone - but there are references of their characters in this, so I couldn’t cast the same people. But it’s a standalone film by itself and we are looking to make other standalone films like this, almost like a dark superhero universe.
With your last two films (Half Girlfriend and Humari Adhuri Kahaani ) not doing too well at the box office, has the success of the movie 'Malang' been reassuring?
The major change I made is that I essentially went back to writing. That’s why I took a break for around a year and a half. Following Malang, I wrote Ek Villain 2. I am also working on something for Vishesh Films and for Rohit Shetty also. I felt that the last two subjects, even though I had worked on the screenplay and the script, were not essentially my stories.
How much is music essential for the film’s success?
I am the wrong person to ask this question to. Where would I be if I didn’t have music in my films? The stars of my films have never been the actors. The music directors whom I work with or the singers have been the stars of my films. If Atif Aslam’s ‘Woh Lamhe’ wouldn’t have been there, my career would have never kickstart. If Raj sahib wouldn’t have given me ‘Jiya Dhadak Dhadak’, if Mithoon would not have given me ‘Tum Hi Ho’ imagine where would I be? I have never worked with big stars. I have worked with only music directors and singers. I give them all the credit of my success.
Has marriage changed the way you choose your projects and look at films now?
It changed the way I look at my work but not the films I do. I don’t know but my wife is not much of a film buff. Udita doesn’t watch too many films. She doesn’t care and she’s not even a fan of me or my work. She didn’t read into my script or anything like that. But that doesn’t affect. She balances me as a person. I am a very disorganized person. She somehow balances out for me and that’s how she has complemented to my success. But she loved AASHIQUI 2 and wanted to keep a trial for her. She is very proud of me.
Do you agree that post the success of AASHIQUI 2, there are lot of expectations from you and your film EK VILLAIN?
When I was making AASHIQUI 2 people were telling me what if you didn’t get the music right because the first AASHIQUI was a rage. It was the second biggest music in the world. It actually sold more than Michael Jackson cassettes at one point of time. So that was a pressure in itself. Pressure is a point of this industry that you can’t really succumb. But I perform better under pressure. Secondly, EK VILLAIN is looking interesting today not because it’s AASHIQUI 3, but it has got a newer star cast, it has a popular face like Shraddha Kapoor, it’s a completely different genre film. People have been more critical about the trailer. They are not going gaga over it because I am the director of AASHIQUI 2 but they like it because the trailer looks interesting. The comparisons will always come but those are the pressures you have to let go off.
Do you think that the real filmmaker in you is coming out now?
I guess so. It took me 4-5 films to arrive at this position. I think my past films were my net practice. It was all about my growth and it was evident little bit in all my films. But I was shy in embracing it somewhere. I always had sleeper hits but now the game has changed. EK VILLAIN doesn’t boast of biggest star cast as such but it has its individual mark.
Do you think AASHIQUI 2 has changed the entire dynamics and put you into a league different altogether?
Well definitely, but the change happened even before AASHIQUI 2 released. Post its success, I was put on to a different scale and everyone started seeing me like that. But I wrote EK VILLAIN before AASHIQUI 2 happened. Today, EK VILLAIN has garnered enough buzz which I have never seen even for my past films. But besides the AASHIQUI 2 hangover, the credit also goes for what EK VILLAIN looks like. I guess that chain started while I was making AASHIQUI 2, when I touched an emotional side of mine, which I was not embracing it earlier. I was trying to bank on the skills by only taking good looking shots, designing stylish stuff, etc. But it was during the making of AASHIQUI 2, I realized that there was a personal connection which I was making with the people.