An Eternal Promise
Team Sanam Teri Kasam – newcomers Mawra Hocane and Harshvardhan Rane, directors Vinay Sapruand Radhika Rao, and producer Deepak Mukut speak to Team Box Office India.
Box Office India (BOI): Can you tell us how you conceived the film?
Vinay Sapru (VS): If you look at our body of work, it has always been inspired by fables and fairy tales. Lucky was set in St Petersburg whereas I Love NY was based in Manhattan. This time, Radhikaji (Rao) and I wanted to do a story that was based in Mumbai that still had a fable-like set-up. Back then, we were doing a film inspired by Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs but it was set in the hinterland of India.
Then, one day, Radhikaji said she one day woke up to the sound of banging sounds outside her flat. When she opened the door, she saw her building’s chairman, secretary, treasurer and manager standing in the passageway, putting up grills and blocking the way up to the terrace. When she asked them what they were up to, they told her that every evening all the boys and girls go up to the terrace and that ‘we’ have to save them by stopping them by putting up grills! That was the starting point for this love story that is set in Mumbai, with the characters as your next door neighbours.
BOI: How much has this film been inspired by real-life incidents?
Radhika Rao (RR): My building society will immediately know who is who in my film and we will be thrown out. (Laughs)
VS: There is a chairman of the society, there is a secretary of the society…
RR: You know, in Mumbai, we don’t know who our neighbours are for years but the moment you see two people in love, something comes over us and we return to the dark ages. No matter which city we live in, we are, like, ‘Arrey yeh log chumma chaati kar rahein hain, pyaar mein hai, roko.’ I mean, if there is a murder next door, we won’t care but if someone dares to fall in love, then everyone comes up with their own moral codes. That’s what our film is all about. The grill is still there, by the way, but I got the lock removed. I pointed out that if there was a fire, I wouldn’t be able to go downstairs, so they had better remove the lock.
BOI: What made you choose fresh faces for this story?
VS: Radhika and I have always worked with stars. In our first film, it was Salman (Khan) and then Sunny sir (Deol) and Kangana (Ranaut). With new stars, there is a certain advantage and also disadvantages but when we finished writing the script, we had to take the age factor of our characters into account. It is a forbidden kind of romance, so we thought it was better not to sign stars because each one has a very specific image and that would introduce a certain amount of fakeness.
Then we met this great man (Deepak Mukut, producer). In today’s times, and with the kind of directors Radhika and I are, we didn’t want to comprise. So we said we don’t have any star kids and we don’t want to take somebody’s daughter or son or brother. Although life becomes easy when there is a star kid, especially with the media, we went to Deepak sir and said we have this subject but we would not cast any star kids. We asked him if he would like to come on board and, thanks to him, we got these two lovely people, Mawra Hocane and Harshvardan Rane will get the Most Promising Boy (award), I tell you. He has all the qualities of a star.
BOI: Mawra and Harshvardhan, tell us how you were approached and how both of you finally came on board.
Harshvardan Rane (HR): Obviously, as an aspiring actor, I had this small list in mind which developed through my observing years. I don’t want to use the word ‘growing up’…
RR: It is ok, Harsh, you can say ‘growing up’ and make us feel ancient. Say it! (Laughs)
HR: In my ‘observing’ years, I would watch all the videos they had directed. Of every 10 videos I watched, eight had been directed by them.
RR: And Mawra was not yet born!
HR: I always knew that if ever I had to be launched in Bollywood, I wanted to be presented well on screen. There is a shallow side to any actor, and no matter how much I insist that I am here for the craft, this shallow side always wants an actor to be seen in a beautiful frame. I was very sure of that because every video they make becomes a cult video.
I got a call from their office and I but I was in Hyderabad then and met them only later. But they were, like, ‘Beta, casting toh ho chuki hai,’ I was, like, I believe that I strongly relate to the character Inder. And it’s not just about me, but also there is a part of my father in him. So I requested them to let me audition for the role. They told me the first day of the shoot was in two days but I pleaded and told them that the film was mine as much as it was theirs. I repeatedly tried to convince them to let me audition. Phir unhone mera audition bemann hi le liya but it was so nice of them to let me audition even though there was another boy who had already been cast.
VS: He sounds very soft right now but he is not really like that. ‘Sir audition toh dekar hi jaunga kuch bhi ho jaye audition toh lena hi padega.’ That’s what he told us.
HR: I hassled them a lot and finally gave the audition. That day changed everything for me. I am grateful to them, Deepak sir and both of them, because they were done taking decisions and to change everything after that was a huge deal. I felt very sorry.
RR: Two days before the shoot, can you imagine!
BOI: What about you, Mawra?
Mawra Hocane (MH): After hearing Harsh’s story, every time I speak after him, my story feels so very simple and brief. My parents live in Sydney and so does Radhika ma’am’s family. So I feel destiny has been very kind to me. Her sister told my mom that she was looking for a new face for her film. So mom, being mom, obviously promoted me and I just happened to be an actor too. It was the cherry on the top. Radhika ma’am watched some of my work and they were kind enough to give me a call to inform me that they had found their Saru, the girl in the film. I was ecstatic!
RR: That’s Mawra for you, you won’t find any grief-stricken stories there. She is God’s blessed child.
MH: Yes, the next thing I knew, I was on the sets shooting for the film’s poster with Harsh. I am super blessed and lucky to have landed here and to be working with ace people in this industry.
BOI: Deepak sir, as a producer, what attracted you to the film?
Deepak Mukut (DM): I already knew Vinayji and Radhikaji as I had watched a lot of the videos they had directed. I learnt that they had a script and I had always wanted to make a love story. I had worked in the industry for 20 years and I wanted to launch a production house of my own and was looking for a good content-oriented script. When I went to their office, they narrated the gist of the story to me and it caught my attention. I immediately said ‘yes’. I believe you cannot succeed without taking risks. There will always be easy paths and people tend to take those paths but for me, to be successful, risks are important. My conscience allowed me to take the decision to produce this film.
BOI: Were you also creatively involved with the film?
DM: Yes, I was but only a little.
VS: (Laughs) That’s not true. Actually, the film has turned out the way it has because of him. Everyone says the film is visually very appealing and grand. But the fact is that Radhika and I went on to make a small film. We have worked with top stars but this time we wanted to make a small film.
RR: (Cuts in) He (Deepak) used to force us to go large with our vision. But I must say that he is a very low-key producer. We have worked with a lot of producers but he is the best, by far. The film has been made with so much joy and positive spirit on the sets and that is because of the producer who gives you the right environment. Things were so smooth, just like a breeze. He has been part of everything, even the songs.
VS: Every love story has strong music. Radhika and I were in search for music for the film because if the music is not good enough, a love story does not come across properly, whether it is Maine Pyar Kiya, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak or even the recent film Aashiqui 2. At that time, we were shooting for Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. We were directing the songs of the film and met Himesh (Reshammiya) there. We narrated to him a single line of our film, where the base line was: ‘A love story sealed with a curse.’ The conflict of the film was the curse.
We discussed it with him and told him that we were looking for a song that spoke about curses. In Hindi, a curse is called baddua. He asked for a day to come with lyrics. The very next day, he came up with the lines, Har duaa mein maine, tujhko hi maanga hai, tera jaana jaise koi baddua. The moment he shared these lyrics, Radhika and I looked at each other and realised that Himeshji was a romantic at heart. He also gave us the title of our film as the song continues, Tera jaana jaise koi baddua, door jaaoge jo tum, mar jaayenge hum, sanam teri kasam. That’s how Sanam Teri Kasam became the title of our film.
RR: Baddua is not exactly a lyrical word but he brought it in so beautifully, in the lyrics.
VS: He gave us the antara but after that, he said that he wouldn’t do our film. RD Burman won his first award for the film Sanam Teri Kasam and today, when the song has become a hit, he (Reshammiya) is happy.
DM: (Cuts in) Yes, he didn’t want to do the film because he wasn’t confident that the producer could make the film. But now that the film is ready, he admits he was wrong. (Laughs)
VS: But Himesh sir was very instrumental during the making of the film. He totally believed in the script. He got involved personally in the music and gave us the best music for the film. Not everyone comes on board when you are making a film entirely with newcomers. Usually, people ask for big names to be attached with the film. But he believed in the script and in us, and also got the best talent for us, whether Arijit Singh or Ankit Tiwari.
BOI: Deepak sir, you come from an era where films were made by solo producers and now you are working with a corporate house. How much have things changed?
DM: Things have changed and it is good change. Now there is a group, so you release films widely. First, we would release in 300 theatres and with the corporates coming in, we release in 4,000 theatres. So business has gone up, for sure. This is the biggest difference.