Finally, oh finally one gets to hear Aditya Chopra talking.
Yes, he is not a myth, he actually and truly exists.
Now that this fact has been established, here is to the book with which the man relives the making of his Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. The film that has been 1000 weeks in the running, and still counting. For someone who states yet again that he is not really a recluse but can’t get into a small talk either, Aditya Chopra finally opens up about his first film that has been making waves till date. That too when the film has been shown countless times on satellite channels and is owned in a DVD format by practically every film lover. The lady who brings the man out of his den and the film out of the man? Nasreen Munni Kabir.
The first impression that one gets on catching hold of the book is that of sheer grace and class. Spanning 135 pages, the book carries a very good design and is indeed a collector’s item in the way it is laid out. While the print quality is impeccable and the pictures aplenty, what one looks forward to is the content, courtesy the fact that Aditya Chopra hasn’t been heard in an interview ever since one can remember.
Thankfully, there is a lot to read about here as he and Nasreen get into a candid conversation where one gets to hear all that the filmmaker has to talk about his debut effort that he had put together at an age of 24. What really works here is the fact that the content on display is snappy and crisp with Aditya not really stretching anything beyond a point.
So even as he talks about his decision to turn director, the genesis of the film, the notes that he exchanged with his father (Yash Chopra), the head strong persona that he carried when it came to getting what he wanted to the endless discussions and debates he had with even industry seniors (Anand Bakshi, Saroj Khan) to the locations that he chose for the shoot to his momentary frustrations on not getting the shot right to the decisions he made around writing screenplay and dialogues himself to the fact he wanted the film to be much more than just a hit – he keeps it short, simple and informative.
In the middle of this all, he also shares several interesting anecdotes around the casting of the film. He reveals how he had almost headed to Saif Ali Khan for the film when Shahrukh Khan seemed non-committed and later in the most unusual circumstances (Shahrukh, Salman as well as Kajol were in a bad mood when Aditya Chopra visited the sets of Karan Arjun) the actor eventually said yes. Wait, there is more. He also reveals that Armaan Kohli and Pratibha Sinha (Mala Sinha’s daughter) were his first choices for the roles that eventually went to Parmeet Sethi and Mandira Bedi respectively.
Meanwhile, though he doesn’t sound immodest, he is candid enough to reveal that for Karan Johar, DDLJ was the right foundation to get started as a director as he learnt all as an Assistant Director. He also reveals how Amrish Puri tested him as a director by asking him some basic, yet difficult questions, at the very onsets of the shooting schedule. Having said that, while anecdotes like these are really interesting, he doesn’t really go the whole hog in sharing many other incidents that resulted in making DDLJ a memorable film indeed. Somehow one feels that he is still holding himself back from revealing everything.
Nevertheless, the book manages to make a place for itself as a collector’s edition and that’s because of numerous pictures and working stills that Aditya Chopra brings in this book. Whether it is his childhood photographs with brother Uday and parents or the moments captured during the film’s making or the ones where he is quietly working on the film, there are 100 odd never seen before pictures that fill this visually vibrant book.
Moreover, one also gets to see many pages of his handwritten notes around trends in music as well as DDLJ screenplay clippings, which have never been exposed before. Also, for those interested in other technical details, there are also prints of censor certificate, lab copies and believe it or not, extracts of contracts drawn with Shahrukh Khan as well as Kajol that are shared in this book.
Well, while for a lesser filmmaker, all of this could well have made for a worthy enough content, considering the fact that we are talking about the longest running film till date, a few more anecdotes, a few more insights, a few more secrets and a few more personal stories of Aditya Chopra may just have come in handy. And yes, a recent picture of the man may just have been an icing on the cake!
Guess the man who made Dilwale (yes, he prefers to call his movie with this name, instead of plain and simple DDLJ) wanted some mystery to be still retained!
Price: Rs. 2000/=