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Sirish Kunder on his debut film

Published: Friday, September 1, 2006, 17:36 [IST]

By: Upala KBR, Mid-Day

Friday, September 01, 2006

Sajid Nadiadwala's musical extravaganza, Jaan-E-Mann, directed by Shirish Kunder, is complete and ready for release on Diwali. The film stars Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar and Preity Zinta.

Here Shirish talks about his dream debut. His words are like his editing - crisp, economical and yet revealing. Read on for an exclusive interview with the young director.

How did Jaan-E-Mann happen?
I've this habit of dreaming all the time. I keep thinking of visuals, stories, ideas. And whenever something excites me, I share it with Farah (Khan) and then completely forget about it. One such idea was Jaan-E-Mann. For some strange reason, at a party Farah happened to share the idea with Sajid Nadiadwala. He liked it, and the rest is Jaan-E-Mann.

How was Sajid Nadiadwala as a producer?
Sajid was quite involved. At no point did I feel that Sajid the producer was overshadowing Shirish the director. Personal things don't matter when it comes to business. And every individual's work speaks for himself. The producer has his own place. And the director has his own.

Once the script was finalised how did you go about the casting?
While writing the film, I had visualised it with Salman, Akshay and Preity in mind. Salman, because no one else has the kind of attitude that's required to play this particular character. Salman is a one piece. He plays Suhaan - an actor from India.

Akshay's role is a very difficult role to play. It required a brilliant actor. Akshay plays Agastya - an astronaut working for NASA. What he has done to the role is unimaginable. Preity was chosen because she looked the part. She plays Piya - an interior decorator based in New York.

The USP of Jaan-E-Mann.
The USP of Jaan-E-Mann is its innovative story telling technique and the visual treatment.

What was Farah's contribution to Jaan-E-Mann?
Farah's contribution has been that of a choreographer and an understanding wife.

During the Akshay-Salman fight rumours were you worried about the fate of your film?
I have no idea about their personal equation with each other. I only meet them on the sets. There they seem to be the best of buddies and that's the amazing chemistry we see on screen.

How did you cope in those trying times?
My wife and my only friend - Farah was by my side.

How has been your working relationship with Akshay and Salman?
I feel Salman has given his best performance till date. His growth as an actor will be clearly seen in Jaan-E-Mann. His performance is a shocker. He has attempted things he has never done before.

Akshay's role was a very difficult role to play but the way he has done it is unbelievable. It's a revelation of what he is actually capable of. He is a gold mine waiting to be tapped. As for Preity, my contribution is limited to making her look prettier than ever before.

There were some rumours that Salman had problems with you and your direction.
Was there? I am not aware of it though. Salman has not told me any such thing. I will worry only if he tells me so.

What made you take Anupam Kher for the role of a dwarf?
The role required a brilliant actor - someone who can look the character and was physically fit to undergo the pain required. Anupam fitted the bill.

How different is directing from editing?
Editing depends on your own creative abilities. Directing is dependent on creative abilities as well as the whims and fancies of many other people. So in that sense editing is more satisfying. I think my journey as a director would be much more smoother once I achieve some success with this film. Until you have proved yourself, there is always that element of doubt about your capabilities.

Have you started working on your next project?
Yes, I've already begun work on my next big one and just finalised the story. I'm attempting a completely different genre this time. If Jaan-E-Mann was big, this is gigantic. I'm a megalomaniac - I HAVE to do things big. Currently I am in the process of finalising the details.

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