What was the reason for making a Hollywood film in Bollywood style?
I had been wanting to make a Hindi style picture for a very long time. I even attempted that with the Deols, but for some reason that never worked out. My film is intended to make the Bollywood style of films popular with people who have heard about it but don't know what it is like.
"Bend It Like Beckham" was a typical British Asian film while "Bride & Prejudice" is a combination of three styles as the story is based in the US, Britain and India. Also, the actors are from three nations and traditions.
It has music by a guy who is so Bollywood (Anu Mallik) while the choreography is by another Bollywood legend (Farah Khan). At the same the time the music is mixed in England and has a British feel to it.
What were your Bollywood references while making this film?
If you watch this film then you will surely find references of the great Bollywood legends that I have grown up watching. Manoj Kumar's film "Purab Paschim" was one of the foremost films that influenced me. Then there is Yash Chopra and Raj Kapoor who have inspired me. I can actually sing every song from the film "Baiju Bawra" as I have seen that film and "Mother India" hundreds of time. At the same time you will also see the influence of Hollywood films.
I think this film will have a great impact on the Indian filmmakers who are trying to take their movies to a worldwide audience. Karan Johar is not interested in making any English film like this and that is very good for him because he is excellent at making films of his kind. In the case of a person like Aishwarya, it will be interesting to watch her in a completely different manner. But must say "Dilwale Dulaniya Le Jayenge" was my first real inspiration to make a Bollywood kind of film. The story of my film is about a mother who wants her four daughters to get married and everything is about marriage.
What made you cast Aishwarya?
I think the character of Elizabeth Bennett is very much suited to Aishwarya. The character of Elizabeth is very feisty, aggressive and very proud of who she is. We made it the same, but the only difference is that she is from Amritsar and is proud to be an Indian. So when Mr. Darcy lands in India and expresses his criticism of India, she is the first one to clear his point-of-view.
I cannot even imagine seeing Aishwarya in a Bollywood film after my film.
What was the reason for selecting the novel "Pride And Prejudice"?
That novel is popular not just in England but around the world. Most people in Britain know the story as it is taught in schools and so I thought of adapting a popular story. How different the film is from the real one is what will interest the ones who have read the novel.
For example, in the novel, the Bennett family is based outside London and that's why they are not part of the fashionable scene. So I set the movie in Amritsar and not Delhi. Mr. Darcy is a gentleman from England in the novel but I adapted his character in my film as an American coming to India and meeting Aishwarya.
How was the experience working with Martin Henderson?
He is fantastic and loves India and Indian food. The moment he landed in Amritsar he was on his own. He took a cycle rickshaw and went on a tour on his own, at the same time he joined a gym somewhere there! We also had a very big singer from America, Ashanti, singing a Hindi track "Payal Bajake". We shot with her in Goa and gave her a typical Helen look. Perhaps this is first time a major black singer has sung a song in Hindi!
What will your next project be like?
It will definitely be a musical or an adventure. Right now, I'm working on an adventure film that will be on the lines of "Arabian Nights" and will also have a Bollywood star.