All of his four films have been romances and now Kunal Kohli is attempting a love story set in three different periods with the Shahid Kapoor-Priyanka Chopra starrer Teri Meri Kahaani, set to hit screens on June 22. A t2 chat with the Hum Tum man…
| Priyanka Chopra and Shahid Kapoor in Teri Meri Kahaani
The promos of Teri Meri Kahaani give the impression that it’s a reincarnation story…
It isn’t a reincarnation story! The fact is that if you try out something new, people will always try to fit it into a slot. Just because Shahid and Priyanka’s characters are seen across three different lifetimes, the audience is automatically assuming that it’s a reincarnation story. See, reincarnation is very outdated. Today, the audience laughs at films that are made on that theme. With this film, I am trying a new way of telling a story, of three stories in one. People are assuming all kinds of things about the film, but that’s a good thing because they are talking about my film.
You have called Teri Meri Kahaani a path-breaking film…
Even at the risk of sounding very Bollywood-style cliched, I have to say that the narrative of my film is very different. The attempt has been to make a path-breaking film in the way I have woven together three love stories in one. I’ve done my bit and I hope the audience appreciates the effort that we have put in to make a film that stands out in every which way.
And it’s already happening because people are really noticing the promos. When I as the director don’t need to say it out loud but have people coming up to me to say ‘Hey, that looks like an interesting film and we can’t wait for it’, then the buzz must be really strong. The songs have become very popular in a short time. Mukhtasar and Jab se mere dil ko uff are doing very well and we just launched Allah jaane. All in all, the songs have really taken off and today, the popularity of the music score plays a huge role in the promotions because that is the first thing you put out for the audience to see and judge. Whenever you try something new, it’s bound to catch people’s eye. Also the fact that it’s a love story based in three different eras is catching people’s attention.
From Mujhse Dosti Karoge to Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic, you have only made love stories. Why this obsession with romance?
(Laughs) I have always been a great fan of Yash Chopra… of Raj Kapoor… Guru Dutt. I think we are a country that loves love stories. Even in an action film like Sholay, there were two or three extremely important romantic tracks. It’s one genre that connects big time with everybody. When you have a hero and a heroine singing in the rain… the hero holds her hand and the heroine blushes… that totally does it for me! Everyone sitting in that dark theatre wants to be in that couple’s shoes. For me, that’s the ultimate expression of cinema. To awaken that lovely, soft, mushy feeling in the audience’s heart is the aim of my cinema.
Also, of late, there has been too much of action and comedy and drama… we haven’t had a pure, out-and-out love story in a while and I hope Teri Meri Kahaani fills that void.
From 1910 to the ’60s to now, how tough was it recreating three different eras?
We had to do a lot of research. In fact, I also made a trip to Calcutta for some of my research. I had never sat in a tram and Bombay in the 1960s used to have trams. I had to experience a tram ride to incorporate it into my film and the only Indian city that still has it is Calcutta! So I spent two days in your city and took a couple of tram rides… I observed how people in a tram behave… how an outsider like me perceives this mode of transport. I feel trams add a lot of romance to your city; I knew that I wanted it in my film.
Then in 1910, there was no electricity in villages and they used lamps that were kept just seven feet from the ground. That is something I never knew of. So we had a blast doing the research because it was like a fun history lesson. I felt that I had created my own little time machine and had gone into the past.
Were Shahid and Priyanka your first choice for the roles?
I had no other actors in mind apart from the two of them. I was actually discussing another script with Shahid, but when I came up with the story of Teri Meri Kahaani, he really liked it and wanted to do it. After I signed Shahid, I went to PC and she loved it equally and was on board. Yes, it was that easy!
Does the fact that this is your first film outside the Yash Raj banner make you a little nervous?
As a director, this is my first non-Yash Raj film, but I did produce Break Ke Baad (a 2010 film starring Imran Khan and Deepika Padukone and directed by Danish Aslam). I have learnt a lot at Yash Raj, but it’s a little like growing up and moving on (laughs). All said and done, they are always there for me when I need them. I do miss that backing but there is also the need to break out and get a little independent in life.
When producing a film, is it tough for someone like you not to interfere?
It is tough, but you have to learn to shut up! The thing is that I started with two producers who were directors — Yashji (Chopra) and Adi (Aditya Chopra) — and I have learnt from them how to put my point across without being interfering. They really understand how to give a director his freedom and yet guide him.
Hum Tum, which completed eight years on May 28, is the ultimate romance for many of this generation. Is it the same for you?
Every film is special for certain reasons. Hum Tum was my first successful film… the first film that got me so many awards. It was actually a very small film… we never thought it would become the cult film that it is today. Even now, people come up to me and talk about that film and it always gives me such a deeply satisfying feeling to have made a film like Hum Tum.
Designer Kunal Rawal on styling Shahid Kapoor’s three looks in Teri Meri Kahaani
1910, javed in Lahore
The character: Javed is somebody who doesn’t follow fashion or rules. In fact, he doesn’t follow anybody. He lives in his own world and is not bothered too much. He is a very free character. That comes across in his clothes also.
The look: His look is all about pathanis in soft fabrics. He loves them! Fashion in those days was limited to having one’s choice of fabrics and colours and cutting it in a different style. And you had the local darzi. That was fashion… how you stand out. That’s what we have tried to do in this film too.
His pathanis are slightly different from what others used to wear in those days. That is his statement. He is a tough guy and a womaniser. He wants women to see his body. So, he’s cut his sleeves and rolled them up to show his muscles. He has a few buttons which he never uses… he likes to keep them open. All his clothes are hand-stitched. Even his jootis are handmade, some that he has and some that he has stolen! That’s the kind of character he is!
|He wants women to see his body. So, he’s cut his sleeves and rolled them up to show his muscles. He has a few buttons which he never uses… he likes to keep them open
My pick: Javed’s beige jootis. It is beautiful because it is hand-stitched leather. At the same time, I love the colour. It is bright but not in your face. In fact, I am going to take one from the movie for myself! It is something that works so beautifully with Indian wear today. I think it is going to bring jootis and mojris back. A black mojri is a must and can really multitask. It works with a bandhgala, a sherwani or a kurta.
1960, govind in mumbai
The character: Govind is a far more understated character. The clothing had to be proper. Suspenders and jackets were a must when you got out of the house and so was the hat. Govind is not a very out-there character. He is a struggling musician. Showing your flair in those days was very subtle. Govind rolling up his sleeves or loosening his bow tie would be how he would kind of let loose. What was proper then became fashionable later.
|One of my favourite looks is the white tuxedo in Uff. We have tried to incorporate elements from Shammi Kapoor... he has done the white tux himself a few times
||We have some solid and some printed silk suspenders... I wish the trend returns with this movie
The look: One of my favourite looks is the white tuxedo in Uff. We have tried to incorporate elements from Shammi Kapoor’s looks. He was one of the iconic actors of the ’60s and he has also done the white tux himself a few times. White was the black of today.
My pick: The suspenders are my favourites! I am a huuuge fan of suspenders. So, in the film we have some solid and some printed silk suspenders, which I think is very interesting. I wish the trend returns with this movie. Printed suspenders are a huge fashion trend today. Suspenders are utilitarian as well. A suspender is a replacement for a belt because it holds your pants up. Today, what’s back in fashion is suits without belts. So, I think, suspenders work with that trend and also make a guy look slightly more proper. They are great for semi-formal functions. Keeping our weather in mind, a formal shirt with formal suit pants and suspenders make for a great look… very spiffy.
2012, krish in London
The character: Krish is like any other university student. Students don’t really have specific looks in mind. They pick bits and pieces that they like and team it together. They pick up things from high-street fashion stores like a pair of glasses or a shirt or a pair of cargo pants. The way these pieces come together has made an interesting look for Krish.
Hooded overshirts is another big trend that’s coming in and I am sure is going to catch on with the youth
The look: Being a college student, you have regular necessities… a couple of jackets that you use for the winter. And even though it is not a winter movie, we have used layering because Nottingham is a bit windy and breezy. He has his backpack, which he uses for class, iPod, pair of headphones and one pair of glasses that are there throughout. Hooded overshirts is another big trend that’s coming in and I am sure is going to catch on with the youth.
My pick: Krish’s wardrobe is something I could wear on a daily basis. So, I have a few favourite items. I love his khaki denims — true khaki with a fit of a denim. That’s another trend that’s growing. Krish’s sunglasses are also a favourite.
reel to real: Shahid SUITS UP!
His clothes are far easier than they used to be. One thing that stands out in his casual wear are his Toms, these slip-on shoes that he is in love with and sporting a lot lately also… without laces… it works with a lot of styles. His formal attire now is far more classic. The one piece that I made and loved was the classic double-breasted tux that he wore for Karan’s Johar birthday party (picture below)