He changed the definition of Bollywood cinema when he arrived with Jhankaar Beats . This was the time when multiplex culture was in its infancy and still the film made its mark. The film which followed, Home Delivery , didn’t quite deliver while Aladin  couldn’t fulfil the wishes of many either. However, when he decided to tell a unique Kahaani  with Vidya Balan, the film ended up being the biggest grosser ever for a heroine centric affair at that time. Now after four years he is back with Kahaani 2 , second in the franchise, and yet again pairs up with Vidya Balan with Arjun Rampal joining in.
There has been a gap of four years between Kahaani and Kahaani 2. Where were you, Sujoy?
(Smiles) I honestly don’t have a glamorous answer to that. I was working though, main koshish kar raha tha picture banaane ki. I was not taking it easy in life. There is fight in everything that I have done. Since childhood, I am used to this. Since I come from a standard Bengali family, nothing has come easy to me. Also, while writing a script takes a long time, to get finance for it takes even more time. That’s how it happens and hence, four years went by and I didn’t even know so much time had elapsed. First I was trying to make one film that didn’t work out, then another, and then there was a short film, Ahalya.
Well yes, Ahalya got you a lot of accolades. That must have pumped you up further for Kahaani 2, right?
Probably everything is destined for its time and space. I don’t think if Kahaani 2 had been made four years ago then we would have been as matured to do the right thing. Over a period time, life mein thoda experience aa jaata hai. We learnt a few lessons and that helped us a great deal to perhaps make a good film. Now we are much more confident of handling the story. It has lived with us for three years.
Kahaani 2 must have come to you with a lot of pressure though? After all, Kahaani has managed a cult following over the years.
The biggest problem with Kahaani is that it is not our film anymore; it belongs to the audience. It was a super success due to the audience and we had nothing to do with it. They saw and then they went to other people and told them to watch it. They kept climax to themselves and that showed how much they wanted the film to live its life. To think of it, we just made a film where a pregnant woman was on the streets crying for help. The response that we got was beyond our expectations. We were greedy, we wanted to hold on to that; we always wanted to make something jisse pyaar aur izzat barkaraar rahein!
So what came first, the story idea or the fact that a second part of Kahaani had to be made?
Initially we weren’t sure if we wanted to do something which had a stamp of ‘Kahaani’ to it. Over time though we felt that the story we had was perhaps a proper successor to Kahaani franchise; you know, something that can be given a stamp of ‘Kahaani’. We were confident with this one though the intention was never there to better ‘kahaani’. Aise soch kar picture banaoge toh kuch hoga nahi. If I write a story with this mind-set then I am screwed. It is harmful to compete with another film. Kahaani 2 happened with an idea to make a film as good as possible.
Vidya Balan is playing the part of Durga Rani Singh in the film. Is this inspired by a real life character?
No, the film is a work of fiction. As a filmmaker, I am trying to tell an engaging story. When you come to the theatre, you should enjoy the film. Once you have enjoyed that film and in the middle of it all you can also hear what I am trying to say then it is even great. By far this has been the toughest script to write; it took us around two and a half years.
And then there was Vidya Balan who was always on board….
Once we had the story then Vidya was on board! In any case, whether she is there in my film or not, a film of mine is always hers; just like every film of mine is (composer duo) Vishal and Shekhar’s! I genuinely value their feedback. Vidya has always been there for me I think you would find a new her in Kahaani 2. She has a streak of madness as a performer. She picks up the character and then breaks it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but then it is a great process. It is so much more encouraging for a filmmaker.