Aiming for Gold
Box Office India: How did the film begin and how did the idea come about?
Shantanu Ray Chhibber (SRC): It began as a dream.
Sheershak Anand (SA): Inception!
SRC: Yes, I dreamt that my private parts had turned to gold, so I woke up and gave Sheershak a call. We didn’t have any film to work on then and were attempting to write a script but were coming up empty. So we thought we would make a film on this concept and started narrating it to our friends. We asked them, what if there was a film made on a man’s private parts?
SRC: Right, the gun… People started laughing and we realised that we had something very interesting here.
SRC: Next, we wondered who we would cast. In those days, Go Goa Gone had just released and I had been following Kunal’s (Khemu) work for a long time. Kunal, I think I sent you the synopsis of the film?
Kunal Khemu (KK): Actually, we had a very weird conversation. Someone called me, saying Shantanu and Sheershak were asking for my number, so I wanted to know what they were making.
When I asked this person to find out why they wanted to meet me, he said they had a script. I asked what kind of script and he said, kuchh gun ko lekar hai. I said ‘no’ and ignored the possible offer. Then, they got my email address and they sent me the synopsis. I instinctively wondered why they were making such a shock-valuewali picture. But then I read the synopsis and I texted them, saying, ‘I can’t ignore this film, I don’t want to do it but I read the synopsis and I liked it. Send me the script.’ Once I started reading it, I couldn’t stop, and I laughed throughout.
I decided to meet Shantanu and Sheershak, and I had decided ki pehle haan nahi bolunga pehle samajh leta hoon ke kya hai yeh poori film. These two were trying make me understand the concept but I was so excited that I said, ‘Let’s forget everything. I am ready to do this, just tell me how embarrassing this is going to be.’
I have been offered sex comedies but I had never done any because I feel very uncomfortable. I always feel that when I invite my mother and sister or even my wife for a screening, I don’t want to do something that is embarrassing. Besides, I don’t like humour that is condescending towards women. It makes me very uncomfortable. But when I read this script, I thought of the high concept and the intelligent way in which they had written it. It is not one bit condescending or disrespectful.
BOI: So the entire family can watch the film separately!
KK: That’s exactly what I am saying!
SRC: They can watch the trailer together.
KK: When I read the script, I didn’t want to tell anyone about it. Maine chupke se padhi but I liked it so much that I later shared it and asked for feedback. I believe this film has great repeat value. And, yes, you can watch it with your family. I am going to screen it for my parents and watch it with them because when I showed my mother the trailer, she almost rolled on the floor with laughter.
SRC: When we walked out after meeting Kunal, we couldn’t believe he had said ’yes’ to the film.
BOI: Aparna, how did the film begin for you?
Aparna Sharma (AS): The auditions were underway and my manager told me about it. I got called for the audition and I was narrated the concept. At first, I didn’t believe I was hearing this script right but as we proceeded, I went ‘Wow!’ and then it was, like, ‘But how?!’ (Laughs) I also wondered how they planned to shoot a concept like this. It is completely out-of-the-box. When I read the script, I was completely blown away. It is so hilarious that you can’t put it down mid-way.
SRC: And we also bring her in the film with the Rehbaraa song.
AS: Oh, yes, when I heard the song, I fell in love with it.
BOI: Was it a difficult script to write, considering it’s a tricky subject but you still have to keep it funny. Besides, there was the question of the Censor Board’s reaction.
SRC: My mother would call and ask ki beta ab tum kya likh rahe ho? We had been scripting for many years, so my mother assumed I had written something on the lines of the Mahabharata. But when I narrated this script to her, she was silent. Later, she asked if she would be able to watch this movie. When Sheershak and I were scripting this film, we were sure we wanted to attempt an adult comedy.
SA: We wanted it to be very symbolic, so the way that golden glow happens… we wanted that to be a signature effect in the film. That’s how we wanted to treat it. It should be symbolic, not in-your-face.
KK: It’s a little weird. I think censorship has gone to another level and it is scary for those who are in the business of making cinema and telling stories. But we can leverage that right now because this film has already gone to the Censor Board. We got ‘A’ certification because of the concept but we expected that. The only thing is that even with ‘A’ films, they have no tolerance for bad language. I mean, in Go, Goa, Gone, we were allowed to use one or two swear words but even those weren’t allowed in this film. We used the word ‘chusiya’ in the film and besides that, it didn’t go through any cuts. Guddu Ki Gun has gone through the strongest scrutiny of the Censor Board, so yes you can watch it with your family. (Laughs)
BOI: It does, right? So what is the core genre of this film besides being an adult comedy?
SA: At heart, it is a rom-com. It has a very interesting message put across in a very beautiful way.
KK: The trailer is primarily just the first half of the film. I think we have only three shots from the second half in the trailer because, eventually, this film goes somewhere else. Also when a concept like this is out, everybody starts thinking, ‘So he has a gold thing, what’s next?’ That’s what’s amazing about this script. You get to that point and then you move on and then you laugh and laugh and there is a story. And the second half goes into a different zone, keeping the humour alive all the time. You go on a different journey, you understand a lot more about this man, relationships, society and how he is learning through all of it. It is not a preachy film as they have taken an entertaining route to tell you a story. Eventually, you get to the point where you get the message.
BOI: The film is set in Kolkata but Kunal plays a Bihari. How did that come about?
SRC: He is Kashmiri, but does he look it? No! Sheershak and I grew up in Kolkata. There is a very strong Bihari culture in Kolkata, especially in North Kolkata. We also wanted to justify why this the ‘gun’ turns to gold. Black magic is rampant in Kolkata, and the city still maintains this small-town essence, where people still go door-to-door to sell washing powder and sabzi, which is lost in other metros. So Kolkata was the apt choice as we had our Bihari backdrop and we could also justify our script by setting it there.
BOI: Before this, you worked on thrillers…
SA: Yes, this is our first attempt at comedy.
KK: Now they are making it thrilling but in a different way! (Laughs)
SRC: We made our first film, 3G, but at the press show, people were laughing. So we thought we would make a comedy. Now that we’ve done that, people are apprehensive. (Laughs)
BOI: How do you plan to market the film after the trailer launch?
SA: We have no idea on how to market this film!
KK: This film has shock value but how do we explain the story? So they said ‘Let’s first put out a trailer that makes us happy.’ And I am so happy with the way it has been received.
They texted me saying that D-day for the trailer launch had arrived and I was, like, ‘Theek hai, jai Bholenath bolo aur jaanta ke upar chod do, (views) aaye to aaye varna hum DVD be dekhkar haste rahengey.’ I remember, at 5 pm, I spoke to Shantanu and he said, ‘Haven’t you watched it?!’ I asked him, ‘Kya, tumne kuch bhara hai?’ And he was, like, ‘Nahin yaar paise hi nahin hai bharne ke liye’. I went online and I saw 1,000 ‘thumbs-ups’ and 1,000 ‘thumbs-downs’. Later, that went up to 2,000. I was happy that people had started talking about the trailer and this was just the gist of the film. This is exactly what we have put out. This is what the film is all about. I just have to give credit to these guys for writing a script like this. I did Go, Goa, Gone and it is also whacky but no one else could have thought up a concept like Guddu Ki Gun. Especially in our country, pehle hi patthar pad jayengey and then ghar walon ko kya muh dikhaenge? But it is so intelligently written that the only thing was to shoot it well, which has been done.
BOI: This time together!
SRC: I am going to use that while marketing! (Laughs)
KK: We are getting ideas for marketing on our own. After the trailer was cut and it was ready to go out, we were, like, yaar isse sex comedy bolengey and I was, like, nahin yaar yeh toh unisex comedy hai. So we thought we would retain this line because a sex comedy is generally something only guys watch but this is a film that even girls can watch, and watch it together. I said, there you go, it is really a unisex comedy. I think Go, Goa, Gone was a zom-com, and this is a unisex comedy. I think I am being offered all the genre-breakers!
BOI: Also, you are known to do experimental roles, and directors and writers even keep you in mind when they write. How do you choose scripts?
KK: Honestly, I go by instinct and I must say that when I did Go, Goa, Gone, it opened the floodgates to writers and directors who think differently. When they sent me the script, I said yes instinctively, which was also the case with Go, Goa, Gone. Here toh we just had an idea and we wrote it and it turned out great. Also, I am happy because I know that people feel I am an approachable actor. I might be offered 10 films and each one can’t be good but there will be that one film that is ‘wow’. I loved Guddu Ki Gun and I would have been very upset if someone else had done it. I don’t actually look for scripts like this but there is a deliberate effort to not avoid scripts like this because I feel that films like this don’t come your way very often.
BOI: Shantanu, Sheershak, what about the two of you? You have made thrillers like 3G and Table No. 21. Why the sudden switch to comedy?
SRC: It is a classic case of being typecast. When you make your debut with a high-concept thriller, people approach you to make or write thrillers. Sheershak and I both write and we also write together, and we have a lot of stuff that we love to write about and explore, not just thrillers. But Mumbai is a very expensive city and it is very difficult to sustain yourself.
When you get an opportunity to do a film that you like and really want to do, you do your best work. With Guddu ki Gun, we had never thought of making such a movie. As I said, when we were approaching people, they would ask for thrillers and we realised that when we would start narrating this film, the response was so amazing that we just had to do it.
BOI: What’s next for you?
KK: I was thinking about the question you asked earlier… about there being more to this film in the second half. What I did was I once gave three of Soha’s girlfriends and two of my friends my own five-minute narration of Guddu Ki Gun, just to get their reaction. When I told them that the character was a washing powder salesman and one day he wakes up and his ‘gun’ turns to gold, two were shocked and three maintained a poker face. Then I took them till the interval and these people were still there and I took them to second half, and when I finished they were like, ‘Aaaah…now we’re with you.’
BOI: But that could be dangerous because the first half just has to capture the audience.
SRC: Nahin, even the first half is nice. (Laughs)
KK: The trailer is your film. It is not like he is dreaming or something, this is actually happening. It is all there but given what has happened, when you follow Guddu’s journey, you feel satisfied and will like that space. We are not cheating anybody. Even with Go, Goa, Gone, one idea was that it was like they wake up and realise they were dreaming. And I was, like, I don’t want this dhoke baazi! box office india.