Right from the scripting to production, how was the journey so far and what kind of a response are you expecting from the masses?
It seems like a saga to me. I had written the script in 2003. It took me some time to pitch the script and find the right producers. Then the production realities like artist setup, dates, Bombay floods etc. took its time. But in all this it was the script and actors' faith in it’s uniqueness that kept us all going. No one can predict response of masses. So expectations should not be there. I just have given my 100% to the film and hope they like my work.
Every film faces some or the other problem, yes we did hear about the stampede which happened outside the station, one night, but other than these how did you cope up with other peer pressures?
When you choose to be a director, then as the captain of the ship you are ready to shoulder the hardships and pressures that come underway. It took us some time to finish the film. But to discuss and complain about them is not ethical. In totality I had an enriching experience. And I am happy that film is now releasing.
The movie sounds to be one of it kind with a musical flavor to it. Comment?
Being a fast paced thriller comedy, the film intrinsically has very limited song opportunity. Yet, music is done to give film a musical face so that in can reach masses through radios, discos and to houses of the people. Like ‘Laree Chutee’ is a promotional song which is only for promoting the film on television and is not there in the film.
Is the story idea all in all an original one, or bares any resemblance to a film or novel?
Story idea is totally original and is somewhere inspired by a rainy night, when I missed my last local in my early days in Mumbai city.
How did the shooting happen, considering the fact that the movie had to be shot in night and maintaining the similar balance as on every other day of the shoot?
All actors and technicians, specially Abhay and Neha had started keeping up till late from 4 days before the shoot so that long stretch on night shoot does not make them ill. Their dedication towards the film was very inspiring for me as a debutant director.
Is there an intentional North India connect in your film Ek… Both your lead pair are from North like you?
I must admit that me being a North Indian, I automatically have more warmth for people who are from North as our understanding and sensibilities match more. Abhay Deol and Neha Dhupia (both Punjabis) are originally from north and I from Delhi and Uttaranchal which again is North. Guess that’s what helped us not only to work well together but also to become good friends.
From being a graduate in electronics to a film maker – did all the study ever help?
Sure. I believe education never goes waste. I got an analytical mind due to my study in science. On switching, I specially spent two years in special effects on ad-films and films. After being all equipped, I entered film making by joining Subhash Ghai and Kundan Shah in direction. Somewhere I feel I developed interest in scripts which are with proper logic and correct reasoning all because of my science education. Not to say, education also helps you to present yourself better and be sincere.
How did 1:40 Ki Last Local happen?
As a new comer in the Industry who has no filmy relatives or guardians I had to write a subject which was unique in content, commercial in nature and in reasonable budget. With these three aspects I started to think of incidences in my life which I could turn cinematically into an entertaining plot. I thus went a few years back, to my early days in Mumbai. I had just landed in the city from Delhi. I came to that night, when after watching a late night movie I missed my last local train of 1:40 am back home. Next local was after 2 ½ hours. I was taken aback when a cop told me that I can’t wait even at the platform. It was law. So I was stranded outside the platform, in the rain and no taxi around. On that incident I started expanding my experience of missing my last local that night and that’s how ‘Ek Chalis Ki Last Local’ happen.
You had said film duration is two and half hour and it is also made in two and half hours?
Well, the story does run between 1:40 am to 4:10 am ie. 2 ½ hours duration. I am sure film buffs will find it fascinating when they compare their wrist watches on coming out of the theaters. It is on them to decide if it is actually is a real time film. If it is, then it will be the first real time film of the country. Maybe Hollywood. But to know that people will have to watch the film first.
How did Abhay Deol and Neha get cast in 1:40 Ki Last Local?
The character needed a guy who is 23 years old, looks from a middle class family who works in a call center. There are hardly any actors today who look 23. Not to say I trusted Abhay’s acting skills for this role more than anything. As for Neha’s casting, I wanted a girl with strong Indian sensuality. Neha was never portrayed in this kind of Indian attire throughout, in any film. I also wanted to give audience a break from her sexy image to a sensuous one.
How did you manage to do it all?
When you have a script which is bubbling at 500 degree centigrade in your heart, you mould every obstacle into a channel and shoot it out on celluloid.
What were the difficulties that came across during shooting?
There were every kind of problems which were imaginable. From natural calamities like 27/7 rains in Mumbai to unexpected calamities like over excited crowd of thousands mobbing our platform where we were shooting. Name it and it was there. But all that kept us together was everybody’s trust on the script. In two years span of time, a word of the script had not changed.
What about the songs and its lyrics?
Songs are by different music directors. ‘Laree Chuti’ is written, composed and sung by Xulfi from Pakistani band ‘Call’. Voice over of Abhay is written by Sanjay Khanduri himself. ‘Ekka Chaukka’ is composed by Sandesh Shandilya (‘You are my Sonia’ fame). The lyrics of this song are crafted by Mehboob ('Hum Dil De Chuke' Fame). This song is sung by Sandesh Shandilya himself and Alisha Chinoi. ‘Bheegi Seeli Si Raat’ is written composed and sung by new comer Ankur Tiwari. The song is arranged by veteran Ranjit Barrot. It’s a romantic ballad. ‘Laree Chuti’ remix is done by DJ Suketu. ‘Ekka Chaukka’ remix is done by Tknow Francorsi. ‘Panga’ is composed by DJ Aqeel and Sanjeev. This song is not in the film. Neither is ‘Laree Chuti’ and it’s remix. They are only in promotion for the film.
What about the locations?
We shot the film in all real locations, which is tough for even big budget films. But our producers had understanding towards the script and film making. We hired real platform and train for four days. Then we hired Bandra flyover for a whole night. Also, a real jungle in film city and a shady bar in Bhayender. This is a realistic dark comedy in thriller format and we shot it as realistically as possible.