Saurabh Shukla is an Idiot (I’ll Do It on my Own Terms). You got that now? Yes, he has always been making cinema his way, his style and his mind. He is different. He is cute but looks like that many of his stories are hiding in his good old stomach. And that’s why his films, when given birth, make a profound impact on the intelligent minds. But it’s only after you meet him in person that you can understand a man like Saurabh. His mind speaks a thousand words. Now we know why Ram Gopal Varma had lyrics in Satya which went, “Goli maar bheje mein…ki bheja shor karta hain.” If you have the right look, the right friends, or an inviting mouth, chances are you can be a star in Bollywood. Shukla is not particularly attractive, most people want to be friends with him, and I would rather not think of his mouth doing anything but delivering his nervous ramblings, sometimes. But Saurabh Shukla is not a star, he is a legend. And to be a legend, you have to have talent. Talent in acting, talent in screenplay writing, talent in writing lyrics and talent in direction. But if he was a little fair skinned, a little thin and with his little black framed glasses on, you’d call him the Indian Woddy Allen, wouldn’t you? UK’s Harrow Observer columnist and Bollywood Hungama‘s London correspondent met Saurabh Shukla and learnt that one of the things that’s so fascinating about an art form is that it may be good, mediocre or terrible but it’s not perfect, so when it’s over you’re constantly impelled to try another one because you suffer from the delusion that you can get perfection. Over to the perfect man!
So what happened last night Saurabh?
Well, I’m still trying to figure out (laughs).
Over a period of time, a large number of people have become friends, like Neha, Vinay, Ranvir, etc. that we keep working for each other
Why does it have to be you or Vinay or Rajat who come up with ideas which no one can think of?
See, I’ll tell you a secret today. Some people have asked me today – What’s your inspiration about whatever you guys do? The answer is that we haven’t told our secret to anyone but we are actually copying, and copying originality (laughs).
How serious can you get now?
What we are trying to do is the kind of cinema I believe in or Rajat believes in. We both have very common liking towards this art and we’re just trying to do that. Over a period of time, a large number of people have become friends, like Neha, Vinay, Ranvir, etc. that we keep working for each other. We aren’t any camp but we work with like minded people. It’s helping each other and have managed to do couple of films together.
So how did you become friends huh?
Rajat and I were never friends. What has happened and it’s still happening the same way. If we like somebody’s work, we don’t hide it. If I like your work, I’ll tell you. If you have anything good to say about my work, we come closer and there is a mutual respect. That’s how we become friends. I never knew Vinay, Ranvir, Rajat, Neha or Anu.
Will the audiences be question marked by the end of the film? Because your tag line has a question mark sign.
Raat Gayi Baat Gayi is an old Hindi saying which means, ‘let bygones be bygones’. But it never comes with a question mark. Here there is a question mark in the title which is actually, that we try and escape certain incidences of our life but can we actually escape? That’s the whole story. It’s a comic thriller where a guy is trying to figure out what happened last night. Yes, there is a discovery in it too.
That’s the whole story. It’s a comic thriller where a guy is trying to figure out what happened last night
How sexy is Neha Dhupia?
Well, she is very sexy and beautiful. I’ve done three films with her and every time I think of a character, Neha comes first. She is really a warm person.
Now that you’ve been doing so many films together with all your friends, what innovatively different do you try and achieve while working with the same family of actors?
I think it’s endless. That discovery is endless because it’s not about two people or a group of people interacting each day. You keep discovering your creative side. The same thing happens in a group. That each time we share our life and experiences and still something is left. Life is all about a point of view. But much later in life, you have a different take on that.
Can you recall of any incidences your friends have shared with you on ‘let bygones be bygones’?
Loads of. Fortunately or unfortunately, I never had a one night stand. I wasn’t such an interesting guy to be chosen for a one night stand. But that’s ok. But I can recall one forgetting part. When I first came to Mumbai, I went to a party where seven to eight thousand people were present. It was a party of a channel called ‘Plus’. There were so many people that I kept smiling at one and all and was happily drinking. I remember I met Satyadev Dube there and he said, ‘I really like your work.’ At around one in the night I started talking to him and I remember that we finished at around 3 in the night. God knows what I was talking. But the next day when I woke up with a big hangover, I was really scared. I called my friend Makarand Deshpande and he said, ‘Kya tu Dubeji ke saath laga hua tha. Kya bole jaa raha tha tu.’ After that day, I kept running away from Dubeji for many months. That was one trigger point as to how embarrassing a night can get. How strange it can get when you can’t remember what you talked.
But that’s what happens on a drunk night, right?
Yes, you’re right. Modern day life is full of temptations. We are in a transitory phase. What used to be taboos in the yesteryears is now becoming a norm. Flirting is no more a bad thing if it’s a decent flirt. Talking to a woman in the middle of a night doesn’t mean that you’re going to sleep with her. But you just play along. However, somewhere there is sexuality involved in it. There is a man-woman politics involved in it. I think that when you’re in a situation like that, you might cross the line, and if you cross the line, does it make you a bad person or do you still remain yourself?
If you cross the line, does it make you a bad person or do you still remain yourself?
Is that one of the many questions asked?
Yes. And the journey is about this decent guy who didn’t want to do it, does it and is now confused. He has to figure out whether the one night stand did take place in the first place.
Would you like to work with besides the same co-actors you’ve been working with?
Working with young talents isn’t easy. It’s a project and it’s a business. Whenever you work with fresh talents, you have to reduce your cost as a director. But that’s pretty much the case. I’m not too interested in making big budget films right now. If I can hold it on my own merit, I’d work with Shahana Goswami. She is very talented. I saw her in Naseer saab’s film and then Rock On came. I always thought that she is a good actor. Then there is another guy called Angat Bedi. He has an interesting face. He was supposed to work in a tele series called Prithvi Raj Chauhan but it didn’t happen. I’m trying to write some good scripts so that I can work with newcomers. Then it’s Ranbir Kapoor. He is fabulous. He is so easy. He is so wonderful to watch. Even if nothing is happening, you still can watch him. I see a lot of potential in Imran Khan too. But I think he hasn’t been exploited completely.