One of the best and one of my favorite films of 2008 was Abbas Tyrewala’s Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. When I heard about his next film, then called 1-800-Love, I was excited to see what new story he was going to bring to the big screen. Once the promos started for Jhootha Hi Sahi we saw the adorable John Abraham and the cute Pakhi, plus a glimpse into the story. After all that and then hearing the outstanding songs, this film went to the top of my “I MUST see this” list (I am sure you have one of those too, na?). I was very lucky to get the chance to talk with Abbas about the film in an in-depth interview. We talked about the story, Pakhi, John’s journey to become Sid, the cast of friends, working with Rahman and even more. He gave me so much with his wonderful answers that I decided that I would let you in on some of our talk today and then tomorrow you can find out even more about what the director has to say about the making of Jhootha Hi Sahi. Check out this first part where Abbas tell us the story, about the gang and why the film was set in London!
Tell us the story of the film.
The soul of the film is about a perfectly everyday guy, with his friends, his own set of problems and his everyday life. His life is thrown topsy-turvy one day, when his phone number gets mixed up with that of a desi suicide line. Being a really sweet fellow he offers to help out and counsel people who call this number by mistake. He ends up speaking with a girl who is extremely depressed because she had just had her heart badly broken. The rest of the film is what happens after these two people are connected by mistake. (More on John and Pakhi tomorrow!)
Along with John and Pakhi, there is also a group of friends. Tell us a bit about the cast of friends and who they are.
You know I can’t think of movies that occur with the just the hero and heroine… there are these two people but they are in a world. That world is important. We don’t come from a world where no one has friends, nobody has parents – unless parents are needed for the story; nobody has a background or anything. What is one of the most important things is that we create a world for the characters and who are the people that are in that world is really one of the most important decisions a writer and a director can make. So, the person that is the most important besides the two protagonists in Jhootha Hi Sahi‘s world is Omar. Omar is a Pakistani and he is Sid’s partner in a bookshop they own together, but they also stay in the same building. Now the way we have conceived of their history is that they ended up buying an apartment in the same building, became friends and then over that decided to establish this business together. Raghu Ram, who is an extremely popular figure back here in India, is playing Omar. He is the host of a program called Roadies. I think because he had this sort of maniacal, wicked and mean edge on screen, he became the most fun to hate guy in the entire country. I think he was also a bit of a casting coup because he is actually such a wonderful guy it is unbelievable. I think his casting was pretty exciting.
Then there is his sister Aliyah, who is played by Alishka Varde who played Bones in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. She has grown up some and is playing a very, very different character, which is a testimony to a very good actor.
There is a guy called Nick, who is a Japanese guy played by a friend named George Young. Nick is Aliyah’s boyfriend and the father of her to be born child. He desperately wants to marry her and keeps proposing to her, however, for the life of him can’t understand why a woman who loves him and is pregnant with his child will not marry him. That is one of the questions the movie goes on to answer.
Then there is Mansi Scott who is playing the character of Krutika. Krutika, who is Siddharth’s girlfriend that nobody in the group is terribly fond of and they keep reminding him that he doesn’t love her, and therefore he is not being fair either to her or to himself by staying in that relationship.
There is a guy called Amit (Omar Khan), who is gay and is an assistant to Sid and Omar at their bookshop, but is also a friend. He is someone who always has weird trivia so any time you walk into the bookstore he is going to hit you with something disgusting that is going to make you throw your coffee and muffin in the waste paper bin. He has got an unbearable trivia for every occasion. He’s a little weird.
Finally, there is a guy called Uday (Prahsant Chawla) who is Aliyah’s best friend. He is also gay and he is the guy that Amit has a humongous crush on. Amit is always completely tongue tied around him.
Why did you choose to set the film in London?
In London, one of the things that I saw about the groups of young South Asians living there is that to a great extent there a breakdown of country barrier. There is a lot less awareness of belonging to different countries as against feeling a certain sameness and oneness. So, if you are looking at young people from India, from Pakistan living in London they will find a far greater affinity because of their similarities in a completely different culture rather than the antagonism that you will sometimes find in our own countries because we consider ourselves different from each other. So, the whole relative sense of what constitutes similarity and what constitutes difference – there is a very different interpretation of that in London. A Pakistani restaurant is almost an extension of the idea of an Indian restaurant – Indo-Pak cuisine is almost lumped together and it is all seen as coming from a similar culture. That is true of the people also, so a group of friends will have some Indians, some Pakistanis, maybe a Bangladeshi and you know none of them will be constantly aware of coming from a different country, they are far more aware of coming from a similar culture. Because our group of friends in the film is that kind of mosaic where there is this Pakistani brother and sister with a bunch of Indian guys that delivers pretty much their family, you know there is absolutely no awareness having any issues – that is something that can only happen in two places London and New York.
Also I didn’t want to go somewhere kitschy and pretty. I wanted a living place; I like a city to play its part in the movie that I am making. I like the city to be identifiable as a city that people live in rather than just a tourist attraction to shoot songs in. And as London is my favorite city in the world and it was perfect for the world of this story.
What will the audiences love about the film?
I think audiences are going to first and foremost love the story and the story telling. I think they are really, really going to enjoy this world and these characters in the story… all the romance and the misunderstandings and all that. I really think it is a very well told story. There is some nice humor and some wonderful heartbreak; it is all great fun actually.
Be sure and click back to BollySpice.com tomorrow because we have the rest of Abbas’s answer to why audiences will love the film (hint: John) plus he goes on to talk music, Pakhi and creating John’s character Sid and so much more! It is all things Jhootha Hi Sahi at Bollyspice.com this week. Jhootha Hi Sahi opens on October 22nd!