|Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkumar Yadav and Amit Sadh at The Park on Saturday.
Pictures: Rashbehari Das
Rock On!! maker Abhishek Kapoor and his Kai Po Che! team of Sushant Singh Rajput, Rajkumar Yadav and Amit Sadh were in Calcutta on Saturday to talk about their film based on Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes of my Life. t2 caught up with the four for a fun chat at The Park.
With a week to go for your big release, how are you feeling?
Abhishek Kapoor: I feel that I am suspended mid-air… neither here nor there. It’s a very painful feeling, actually. I just want these five days to pass and the film to release. I feel like all of us have come together to deliver a baby!
Sushant Singh Rajput (who plays Ishaan): It’s a special film for all of us and we are very excited…
Abhishek: These guys are not nervous at all… mushtandey hain teeno! (Laughs). They have no feelings at all.
Amit Sadh (who plays Omi): I am a little anxious, to be honest. But we’ve made a beautiful film. Sushant: I am very sure that everyone who watches Kai Po Che! is going to love it!
Is this confidence coming from the standing ovation you got at Berlin last week?
Sushant: We were confident all along, but that has now made us overconfident! (Laughs.)
Amit: It’s obviously a great thing if your film gets appreciated on a world platform, but we’ve always known that it’s a great film.
Rajkumar Yadav (who plays Govind): You must be having everyone who comes down to promote their film saying that it’s a great film, but trust us when we say that Kai Po Che! is definitely one of the better films you would have seen.
Abhishek: Besides Berlin, we have been having a few screenings for people in the industry and the reactions have been very positive. But Friday is going to be the real test because we make films for the viewer who buys a ticket and walks into a theatre.
How special was the screening at Berlin?
Abhishek: It was fantastic… very overwhelming. It was a big theatre and we were totally sold out. The audience was very dignified and since they were watching a subtitled version, they were discovering it all afresh. Most of them hadn’t read The 3 Mistakes of my Life and were reacting to the film for what it is. After the screening, they were so generous with their praise. That’s the magic of cinema… how it crosses all barriers and reaches out. Berlin was a life-defining experience for me.
Sushant: We couldn’t go along because our suits were not ready! (Laughs out loud.)
Abhishek: Arre, I didn’t take them along because they said ‘We don’t want to go to Berlin… we want to go to Calcutta!’
Chetan Bhagat told t2 that with Kai Po Che!, he is answerable to the one crore readers of The 3 Mistakes of my Life. Do you feel the same?
Abhishek: There will definitely been an audience that has read the book. Chetan Bhagat is a very popular novelist no doubt, but we have moved away from the book and made some changes. In fact, it will be interesting to see how people who have read the book react to the way in which we have interpreted it in the film. Chetan has co-written the screenplay, but I had my own team including Pubali Chaudhuri, who also wrote Rock On!!, and Supratik Sen. We kept Chetan with us because no one knows the book better than him and we were looking at him to come up with inputs. But Chetan the novelist has pretty much said what he had to say in the book; Kai Po Che! is what we have made of his book.
|Since this is a story of friendship despite all odds, the chemistry among the three had to have a spark. And with these guys we found that... there was something there. They are a treat to have on any director’s set… together, the three are dynamite on screen
— Abhishek Kapoor on Sushant,
Rajkumar and Amit
Did you ever feel that the title Kai Po Che! could alienate a part of the audience?
Abhishek: I wanted a title that summed up the film. I could have called the film ‘Teen Yaar’ (laughs out loud) to make things simpler, but I didn’t want to make things simple. I get ‘What does Kai Po Che! mean?’ a million times a day, but I am happy because at least people are talking about my film! [Kai po che means ‘I have cut’ in Gujarati, a term popular during kite-flying competitions.]
Kai Po Che! was in the making for three years. What took so long?
Abhishek: The book has so many threads that to condense it into a screenplay took me two years. Yes, I was a little lazy too, but I would like to put the delay down to the fact that it was a tough book to film (laughs). I didn’t want to lose out on any part of the material and yet it all had to come together and make sense in the film. We had to carefully decide what to keep and what to leave out. The (2002 Gujarat) riots are there for sure, but we have made sure that it isn’t presented in a manner that will hurt the people affected by it any further.
What was the toughest bit about playing each of your characters?
Amit: To fit into the small-town milieu. Also, Omi is very emotional… he is extremely passionate and possessive about everything in life… his friends, his dreams.
Rajkumar: Perfecting a Gujarati accent in my Hindi was definitely tough.
Sushant: To break the notion that television actors (he played Manav in Ekta Kapoor’s Pavitra Rishta) can’t act in films.
Did you guys ever want to play any of the other roles?
Sushant: We all auditioned specifically for the roles we eventually played and so there was no point thinking about any other character.
Amit: Well, Sushant and I didn’t get the heroine (Vidya, played by Amrita Puri), so yes, we do envy Raj!
Sushant: I got the heroine as my sister and that hurts even more!
Abhishek: We were very sure that since this is a story of friendship despite all odds, the chemistry among the three had to have a spark. And with these guys we found that... there was something there. They are individually great in their respective characters… they each bring something special to their parts; for me, they are not interchangeable. They are a treat to have on any director’s set… together, the three are dynamite on screen.
Pick your favourite moments...
Amit: The song Meethi boliyan was the one time we got to freak out… those four-five days of shoot were a lot of fun.
Rajkumar: There is a scene where the three friends have a fight and there you get to see Govind in a different light… this shy and simply guy asserts his presence in a different way for the first time. Also the Vidya-Govind love story is very cute.
Sushant: There is a scene where Ishaan and Omi meet after a gap of a few months and the emotions they feel bring tears to my eyes every time I see that scene.
Amit Trivedi’s music is a highlight…
Abhishek: His contribution to the film is fantastic. He doesn’t speak much… but he knows what a director wants out of him. I told him that I wanted the songs to be soulful and Indian and he delivered it to the brief. Swanand Kirkire’s lyrics have only taken his tunes a notch higher.
What is the first thing you will do after Kai Po Che! releases?
Abhishek: I will wait a while to see the reactions and then take a vacation. Sushant: A holiday for me too!
Amit: All of us are taking a vacation, but February 22 will decide whether I go to Benaras or Barcelona!