Debutante Zoya Akhtar hopes to recreate the magic of the world of glitz and glamour through her lenses, writes Sneha May Francis
Bollywood is a fantasy land for millions of Indians. We all grow up star-struck, aping the actors and hoping that one day we’d turn out just as famous. Fame and recognition are packaged and sold to us in neatly captured celluloid chunks. In fact, we are all mesmerised by the Khans and Kapoors. From dressing like them, to miming Hindi film dialogues and swaying to the Bollywood moves, just reflects the scale of the madness.
And it is this Bollywood mania that forms the crux of debutante Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance. With intelligently crafted trailers, Zoya teases the viewers with the ever enchanting Bollywood dream.
Talking exclusively to e+, Zoya takes us on an insider journey of the Bollywood rigmarole.
This ain’t the first time that the Bollywood dream has been captured on celluloid. Guddi, Rangeela, Main Madhuri Dixit Bana Chahti Hoon and Om Shanti Om have all told similar stories and, in the bargain, created a mark at the box office. Zoya, daughter to famous lyricist Javed Akhtar and talented Honey Irani and sister to the dashing Farhan Akhtar, chose to tell the story of struggling actors, mainly because she’s been witness to many.
Zoya’s film is about "about two people – a struggler Vikram Jaisingh, played by Farhan, and a starlet Sona Mishra, portrayed by Konkona Sen-Sharma. He moves to Bombay, goes through acting classes and the whole gamut. She, meanwhile, has been working in the industry for a couple of years and is awaiting for her promised break. They meet and their relationship changes their lives forever."
So being an industry insider, was it any tough or easy for her to make this film? "My background definitely has its perks, I am not denying that. You do have access to a lot of people and you get your foot in the door. But that’s about it." She is quick to add that the access is not enough to make a film. In fact, she had run into troubled waters while casting her lead actors. There were talks that Tabu and Saif were roped in, but things didn’t work out. "Yes, I did have a tough time casting. There was a time, I decided not to make the film even. But then things fell in place and suddenly just flipped on its head. Today audiences are looking for something different. So it’s happened at the right time. And with a great cast."
It’s heartening to note that Zoya and Farhan share a mature working relationship and no sibling rivalry. "It was easy to direct Farhan because he knew the script and the character inside out. He knows my take, my intentions. In fact, he was the easiest actor to work with, because I didn’t need to explain anything to him," she points out. And this is not the first time that the brother-sister duo has worked together. They had earlier teamed up for Lakshya and Dil Chahta Hai, taking on different roles. It’s interesting to note that Farhan was cast even before his successful debut in Rock On!!!. It was her best friend Reema Kagti who suggested Farhan’s name for the lead role. In fact, Farhan was to debut in Kagti’s Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd, taking on Abhay Deol’s superhero role, but due to date problems it didn’t work out. Zoya is absolutely happy with her lead actor. "He (Farhan) was always the performer (‘involved in school theatre’) and we all knew he would take up acting."
And in this whole circus of fame, glitz and glamour, it’s interesting how stardom didn’t entice either Zoya or her brother. "Both Farhan and I were never star-struck. We were into watching films and writing. A lot of it comes from my parents. We’ve grown watching them discuss films. So our heads were geared into something else."
Luck By Chance also features the multi-talented Rishi Kapoor as the loud boisterous Punjabi producer Romy Rolly, the vivacious Juhi Chawla as his wife Minty, Sanjay Kapoor as Ranjit Rolly, the gifted Isha Sharvani as Nikki Walia, the versatile Hrithik Roshan as the spoilt Bollywood super-hero Zaffar Khan and the gorgeous Dimple Kapadia as diva Neena Walia.
Like Om Shanti Om, this film too has its share of celeb guest appearances, that will definitely pull in the audiences. There’s Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aamir Khan, John Abraham, Ranbir Kapoor, Vivek Oberoi, among a host of other celebrated names. All playing themselves!
The music is an eclectic treat. "It totally works with the film. Once you watch it, you will get into it even more. Music directors Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have done a fantastic job," adds the director.
Despite receiving huge acclaim for his rendition in Rock On!!!, Farhan won’t be lending his voice to any soundtrack. The peppy Baawre, featuring the colourful Hrithik and Isha cavorting their way through a colourful backdrop, sets the pace of the film. It almost feels like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are attempting to recreate the magic of Dil Chahta Hai.
There are rumours that, after Aamir Khan’s six (or eight) pack, Farhan too will don a chiselled look for the film.
Luck By Chance is a family work, with Farhan leading the acting bandwagon and taking on the role of producer, while dad Javed penned the dialogues. Now, it remains to be seen if luck will favour the Akhtar family this time round as well.
(Published e+, Gulf News, January 29,2009 issue)