Fanny-ing trouble!

So Homi, why did you make this movie? And please don’t give us politically correct answers!

Homi Adajania: Give them the whole gyaan?

Arjun Kapoor:
 I will tell you why Homi, wanted to make the film… he was always dying to work with me. (Smiles)

Yeah, I had to find a script that would suit Arjun Kapoor. But it was so difficult that it took me so many years! (Laughs)

Arjun, why did you decide to work in the film?
Arjun: Do you want the real reason?
No, no, not the real reason.

What the hell guys, this is not Comedy Nights With Kapil show to fool around on. (Laughs)

OK, Homi, why don’t you start with why you wanted to make the film?

 I wanted to make Finding Fanny because it was a story that was very close to my heart and I really wanted to tell. I believe the time was not right when I wanted to make the film. Of course, at that time, the producer had called me and made me do various other things.

One thing! Cocktail.
Homi: Yes, I was asked to direct Cocktail and the reason I didn’t make this film at that time as Naseer (Naseerudin Shah) had date issues. The film was further postponed because I was doing something else. Then we started work on Cocktail and the story took another few years to be made.

Every film has its destiny, so this film was made at the right time.

Homi: But I also believe that if I had not made Cocktail, I wouldn’t have got the budget to make this film. You have to be lucky to be able to make a film at the right time. Our audience is also ready for a film like this, they are way more ready for a Finding Fanny now than earlier.

We tend to underestimate our audience and are way cooler than we think. They are able to immerse themselves in content that we would say, Nahi, yeh hatke film hai, ya yeh offbeat hai, or it’s a crossover film.’ But that’s nonsense! A film is a film is a film. A commercial film is a film that makes commerce. It doesn’t make sense trying to put them in these boxes and attach labels. Fortunately, we now don’t have to do that and Finding Fanny is a prime example of the fact that we don’t have to put a film in any of these boxes.

 I think box-office-wise too, not every film has to clock numbers.

Homi: Oh, no, certainly, there is a range. For our film also, it would be considered successful if it can recover its costs, so that we can say let’s do one more Finding Fanny. And it will then open up this genre for more filmmakers. The audience is ready for variety and so let’s explore some variety. I am sure there is so much incredible talent and no one can express themselves because both Dinesh and Vijay have had that kind of a vision to say give it a shot!

Arjun, since you are an industry kid, do you think this is the right time for a film like Finding Fanny?

Arjun: How are you going to figure that out if you don’t take a chance with a film like Finding Fanny? There is no right or wrong time. When you hear the material, you go with impulse, without thinking about what the audience will feel. First, it has to appeal to you. And the audience is much more ready for a film like this than it was five to seven years ago. And that’s an encouraging sign.

We are all here because the audience is willing to watch the film and the audience is not stuck in that Bollywoodised, commercial system, where they only want a masala film. There is enough room for everyone. I mean, Aashiqui 2 and Iron Man released on the same date. So there is a large enough audience out there. If the film gives an added 10 per cent to regular cine-goers to give the film a chance, all the better.

I am just happy to be a part of the film. There are some choices you have to make yourself. You don’t always look at your career; you have to just do what excites you first. I did the film on an impulse to do something different and because it was exciting for me as an actor.

Dinesh, why didn’t you make Finding Fanny when it was first planned?

Arjun: (Cuts in) It was much more difficult to work with Homi at that time.

Dinesh: No, Homi wanted to make it a year and a half before Cocktail and the honest reason is that Naseersaab couldn’t do the film then, and nobody can play that role but him. At the same time, like he said, if he had not made Cocktail, I wouldn’t have let him make this film. And Homi would have killed me if I hadn’t made the film. He had his options open after Cocktail and he could have made a larger film. So, as he said, he had to get this film out of his system. And I wanted to back him as a director and make sure he was able to make that film.

Homi, did you have Deepika in mind then?

Homi: No, I didn’t know Deepika then. I met her only before Cocktail. There was a bunch of people I wanted to cast and ran through the list only with Naseer, who was already on board. When the film came back on the radar, it was a completely different ball game because I had met Deepika by then and it was a no-brainer. If it was somebody else, I would have dumped them for the film. (Laughs)

Deepika, why did you agree to do the film?

Deepika Padukone (DP): I love him, yaar. He narrated Finding Fanny while we were doing Cocktail, I clearly remember the South Africa schedule and by end of the schedule, which was two weeks later, I went up to him and the scene and the character really stayed with me. I was sold on the very first scene. Now, that scene is not there in the film.

The scene was to establish what to expect from the rest of film and I was sold from the very first scene, when he narrated the script to me. I went up to him two weeks later and told him we should make this film. He went to Dinoo and he agreed to produce it. We were also lucky that Naseer’s dates opened up at the time when we were looking to make the film. It was an extremely seamless process.

Dinesh: (Laughs) We had to fight for her dates only.

Deepika: Okay! And for whatever reason, it just happened.

Arjun: That wasn’t her fault.

Dinesh: Okay, now you’re saving her.

Arjun: No, she had no idea that we were advancing the schedule.

Deepika: Thank you, Arjun! So it was the story and script that I found extremely quirky and very different from the films I was working on.

Dinesh, did you agree to produce the film because Deepika and Arjun were on board?

Dinesh: I had no other option. He came to me after Cocktail with …

Deepika: (Cuts in) I remember him calling me and asking, ‘Babe, are you sure you want to do this film?’

Let me tell you what happened. We were to make this film four years ago. He is a very honest filmmaker and when Cocktail got over, he chose to make this film. I still leave him for two months, to make sure what he wants to do, because there was a seven-year gap between his last two films. So I didn’t expect him to make this film so quickly. Deepika had so much conviction in the script that she told me, ‘If you ever make this film, I want to say I really want to do this film.’ We never make a film on the assumption that we are doing projects together.

We went to Alibaug to work on the final draft of the script, and were working on the fourth draft when I called her. Then we gave her a full narration. She is also very lucky for me and whatever she has chosen to do for us has really worked. But that’s not the reason. Because the day you try to make films as project…

Homi: (Cuts in) What the hell is luck, yaar? It’s talent and hard work.

Dinesh: We have also done a film without you, which worked wonders for us.

Dinesh: If this film was done with another cast, it would not have been as acceptable. Every
character fits the bill.

 Remember, when she came on board, none of her films had become blockbusters or entered Rs 100-crore club. She and you (Dinesh) said yes on the merit of the material and wanting to work with the director. It wasn’t like ab meri Ram-Leela, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani chal gayi toh ab kuch alag karenge. This is a very important context, that she didn’t come on board to utilise her stardom. And they didn’t exploit that.

Dinesh: We signed Arjun after Ishaqzaade.

Yeah! So I only had Ishaqzaade. It was February or March of last year when we were sorting out everything. But they decided to do it because the film was worth making. I jumped because I saw the excitement in all of them. Now, a year and a half later, we are all sitting together. We shot the film in October last year so we are releasing it almost a year later. While making it too, it wasn’t that ki ab inki do-teen picture chal gayi hai toh ab release karo. It’s not a project, it’s a film made with heart.

(Cuts in) The best part about Finding Fanny is that it’s unadulterated, in every sense of the word.

Arjun: And it’s a true ensemble cast. It is rare to have all five protagonists in the same frame in the posters. Look at the trailer, everything is equally divided, the characters are equally showcased. Even during the edit, there was no compromising on any character for screen space. That’s the enthusiasm that went into a film like this. It has not been done to impress a certain kind of audience. It has been made for the material that needs to be told.

Deepika: So many scenes that were shot have been deleted in the edit because at the end of the day you’re working for the betterment of the film.

Arjun: So many of my scenes were cut.

Deepika: Everyone has had scenes deleted. That black dress was really cute and it has been cut.

I had rehearsed for one scene for 10 days. The amount of reading we did for that scene…Have you seen the church scene?… In fact, Homi performed that scene with me so many times. We did it 20 times in a row and then they chucked it.

You did the film at a different time when you (Arjun) had two back-to-back hits with Gunday and 2 States. You (Deepika) were on a massive roll, starting with Cocktail and up until Ram-Leela. Your other films hit the Rs 100-crore mark and this one is a niche film. Does that bother you?
Arjun: We call it ‘commercially successful’ because it has done better or earned more than the money invested. It’s as simple as that. Unfortunately, in the context of the other films doing well, it’s not about X amount of money. But in its own way, it will recover its money. And that is a hit film. One should not judge a film by its numbers alone.

Vijay Singh:
 I would like to add in that it’s all about budgets. If you get your budget right, the film will work in the market. And this film is a great example of getting the right budget, getting the right talent in one film. It’s a very good example of how Bollywood is moving in the right direction. If they did not take that approach, the film wouldn’t have happened.

Arjun: What was Cocktail’s numbers?

 Cocktail was not a Rs 100 crore film but we gained much more than the numbers.

Dinesh: Also, the trend is changing. Like, if you look at the West, Robert Downey Jr does a
commercially successful film like Iron Man and also does completely alternate films. So there is a market for that which is commercially viable. And Finding Fanny is commercially viable because of the way it is structured. It adds value to your filmography. Actors are not restricting themselves any more.

Arjun: I can do a Gunday and a 2 States. And if, because of them, I can do Finding Fanny, then I enjoyed doing both of them as well as this film. So why should I restrict myself on the basis of a certain number. How are we calculating the graph? We are not doing some 100-1,000 films that we have to ‘maintain’ something. For me, Kahaani is not a 100-crore type of film but the reputation the director earned overnight… Vidya Balan proved that you don’t need to open with big numbers but it’s about sustaining, it’s about good numbers. Queen is a recent example. That is what will stay with us, na… After ten years, when we are here again, we will talk about films like Kahaani and Queen. I hope Finding Fanny remains that kind of reference.

Deepika: Every Rs 100-crore films is not necessarily a good film. First, Rs 100 crore is not much when you compare it with the population. Our movie-going population is very small. Secondly, I don’t think every Rs 100-crore film is a good film. For me, a film is successful when it has repeat value, a film I would want to watch ten years later.
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