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Chai With Shai: Writers are the most neglected and underpaid lot – Jyoti Kapoor

If the dialogues of Sholay or Mr. India are still popular then you remember the faces mouthing them. When Bajrangi Bhaijaan or Bahubali is applauded for their sheer performance at the Box Office and also connecting with the audiences than Salman Khan and Rajamouli takes the credit so on and so forth. If I have to give you examples then it will take reams and reams of cyberspace.

In the star-driven industry the most exploited creative people are the writers. And who else other than me (a writer) can vouch for it? The saddest thing for any creative person to face is his / her work being passed off as somebody else’s or someone plagiarizing their work. Few months ago one person stuck her head high and challenged one of the most prominent directors of the industry on charges of plagiarism and pleasantly won the case against him in court, giving a ray of hope to the oppressed and over-exploited writer community. Yes friends I am talking about Jyoti Kapoor, the ‘Iron Lady’ of writer community who won the plagiarism case against the mighty Kunal Kohli. Sitting right next to me sipping a cup of hot Chai we talk about the controversy that shook the industry and also about movies in general. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.


Welcome Jyoti to my web series Chai With Shai (smiles).
Thank you Shaiju for inviting me over (smiles) ‘Iron Lady of Writer Community’ huh? That’s a new one (beams).

I am sure there might be few more flattering titles given to you by the media (smiles). Anyway, let’s begin with you being in the news lately for winning a case against director Kunal Kohli for lifting your story idea and turning it into a movie – Phir Se. So how are you feeling about the victory?
Relieved, (smiles) much relieved! I have stopped having nightmares, my appetite is back and I can concentrate on work again (laughs).

(Laughs) That’s nice to hear. Moving on… Plagiarism is a common thing in the industry, why do you think reputed directors resort to such tactics when they can very well hire the original writer and get the script done?
Because they think they can get away with it (frowns). Some of the ‘reputed’ directors have built their careers on stealing. The ghosts of the original writers will come and haunt them if they don’t stop this stealing business (giggles).

I am sure it will happen one day (laughs). After the case was judged in your favor, Kunal went on record saying that he didn’t want to harm the movie’s release therefore he agreed for an out of court settlement. How far is it true?
I’d say he’s becoming a better actor by the day. I wish him all the best for his second innings (winks).

Kunal also went on record that going forward he will never entertain a new writer ever and if he does then he will make sure the meeting is recorded. What are your thoughts about the same?
I am actually worried if any writer ‘OLD OR NEW’ will ever entertain him. I think having meetings recorded is a brilliant idea. Every writer should carry a camera hidden in their script/ purse/ chappal/ eyes/ hands/ underwear, basically wherever they can squeeze it in (laughs). I think, journalists should also have lie detectors fitted in their mics, especially when interviewing ‘reputed’ people (smiles).

What have you learnt from this incident?
Always fight for what is rightfully yours and don’t listen to naysayers.

How has the industry reacted to you? Has this incident done any harm to your career?
So many colleagues have reached out to me with good wishes, strangers (from the industry) have hugged me when they got to know that I was the same person who had fought this case (pauses). I receive so many messages from fellow writers from all over the country who are stuck in similar situations and need guidance with the legal course of action. I’ve been overwhelmed with support from all over and I’m thankful to everyone for that (crosses fingers).

As far as this incident affecting my career is concerned, I can only say that nothing can harm your career if you are good at what you do. If people see any value in your work, they will always work with you.

Absolutely! (Smiles) Do you think writers as a lot is hugely neglected and underpaid in Bollywood?
YES! Put that in Capital Letters (smiles).

jyoti kapoor, shaiju mathew, phir se, kunal kohli
Jyoti with husband Harsh Wardhan

Why is it that Indian movies have not experimented in genres that Hollywood has excelled? We still have the stereotypical movies being made. Whom do you blame – the writer / the director / the audience?
Firstly, I think Hollywood is overrated. In terms of experimentation, their TV content is way better than their films; a majority which, by the way, are not any less formulaic than the ones we make. Also, why do we need to conform to the western idea of experimentation? Our films are born out of Indian ethos and are unique in their own way. Bollywood, however, is not the true and only representative of Indian cinema. The Indian Independent cinema, which has always co-existed, is slowly and steadily finding its bearings. Sadly however, we don’t get to see these films as much as we should. The filmmakers are perpetually struggling with their shoestring budgets and don’t have enough backing, especially when it comes to marketing their films. There are a few producers who are putting their money where their mouth is but we are still way behind. In that respect, I think Hollywood is more sorted. You’ll see mainstream actors/producers supporting small content driven films even as they continue to produce their big budget movies.

As far as the mainstream Indian films go, we are “mostly” churning out the same done to death, run of the mill movies except a few gems like ‘Dum Laga Ke Haisha’. I don’t know whom to blame. But in a star driven system where everything revolves around a handful of Ks – from the epiglottis (say animatedly and giggles) I don’t see things changing anytime soon. Having said that, there’s no dearth of scripts. There aren’t enough people ready to take a risk. And ever since the studios have taken over, things have only worsened (grim). Films have taken a back seat. It’s projects that are made now (frowns).

So True! Anyway let’s go back to how you started your journey in Bollywood? (Rubbing my hands) This is one of the most favorite part I like to ask my guests (smiles).
Okay…(laughs). I was a journalist for almost 4 years before I packed my bags and landed at the Film and Television Institute of India. I wanted to go beyond the facts, beyond the five W’s and one ‘H’ (What, When, Where, Who, Why and How) of journalism. After completing my course in screenwriting in 2005, I shifted back to Mumbai and have been working as a screenwriter ever since. My training in screenwriting has definitely helped me understand the craft better but my first teacher will always be the fieldwork in journalism.

Okay… One thing I am very curious to know about is, Habib Faisal is a wonderful writer himself, so dow did you get to write Daawat-E-Ishq for him?
Even the best of writers need collaborators. Plus, Habib has collaborated with newer writers in the past. I met him at one of our screenwriting study circles and was quite impressed with his approach towards writing. Post that I shared one of my scripts with him, which he liked and asked me if I’d be interested in collaborating with him on his next script. He is a wonderful mind to collaborate with.

How I wish such interesting incidents happen with me too (frowns animatedly).
Awww (laughs).

parineeti chopra, shaiju mathew, jyoti kapoor
A still from Daawat-E-Ishq

Anyway moving ahead… Did you get to learn anything new with your association with Habib?
Yes, lots. Habib is a hard taskmaster. He will keep pushing you until you have explored all the possibilities in your story, which I think is how we should always approach it. Another thing I like about his writing is his ordinary, everyday, endearing characters, which I could completely relate to.

Why do you think Daawat-E-Ishq failed to connect with the audience?
Nobody can predict what will work and what won’t, especially when it comes to movies. I think we should just keep at it (writing) without second-guessing the audience. The most we can do is to try and enjoy the process of writing and hope that some of that excitement passes on to the audience as well. Too much of analysis makes Jack a dull boy (giggles).

You are looked as a new-age crusader for writers in Bollywood. Any tips for your fellow writers?
My case came out in the open for various reasons that were beyond my control but it was certainly not the first one. There have been so many writers before me who have taken on the big guns and won. Urmi Juvekar for example, who took on CNN-IBN and Kapil Chopra who fought against the Bhatts, won their respective cases among others.

To my fellow writers, my two cents:
a) Do not doubt yourself – except may be two days a week (winks)
b) Do not take yourself too seriously
c) You cannot control the fate of your script, so just enjoy the process.
d) You will always be the unsung hero, so get used to it
e) You will always need to take up commissioned work to sustain yourself but try and take out some time for stories that make you happy, that you are passionate about. Or you’ll get burnt out before you know.
f) Keep your family and friends VERY close to you. On days you are suicidal, they will help you sail through it.
g) Don’t take shit from anyone. Nobody is giving you a break here. People are working with you because they are getting something out of it.
h) Lastly and most importantly, Bollywood is not the be all and end all. It’s just one of the platforms where we can showcase our work. As long as you are writing, whether that’s a book, a play, a story or a poem, you are fine. Diversify, as much as you can.

Wow! Those were really some pearls of wisdom (smiles). Accha… it is normally seen that eventually every writer at some point of time wants to turn director. Do you have any such aspirations?
In an ideal world, I’d rather be a writer; write quietly in my cubbyhole and not deal with too many people and their big egos. However, with each passing day I am realizing that you can’t trust many people with your stories and it’s frustrating to see your work getting butchered. So unless you find that perfect collaborator, you are left with no choice but to go ahead and direct your scripts yourself. So yeah, never say never! (Smiles).

So what’s the future ahead for you?
A movie each with Junglee Pictures and Landmarc Films which are in the pipeline (smiles). I’m hoping that my projects see the light of day soon.

It will I am sure (smiles). Okay Jyoti I think we have done a lot of serious talking and we need to brighten up. What do you think?
True… so what’s in store for me next?

Haha! If you are a regular reader of my series then you will know that next is where I will throw few questions at you and you have to answer in short (grins).
Interesting (smiles)


In the industry there are no permanent friends or foes. So will you work with Kunal in the future?
Only if I can manage to carry a hidden camera inside! (winks and burst out laughing)

Funny (joins laughing)… Okay… YRF or Dharma the best production house to work with?
Haven’t had a chance to work with Dharma. So can’t really say.

So for now YRF huh?


The most underrated actor in Bollywood?

The most overrated actor in Bollywood?
Oh there are so many!

Come on… One name, please…
You will put me in trouble… so no comments (giggles)

The most underrated director in Bollywood?
Shimit Amin

The most overrated director in Bollywood?

Actor / Actress to watch out from the present lot?
Radhika Apte looks promising among the newer lot.

Parineeti Chopra or Priyanka Chopra the better actor?

On a wild date whom would you like to go with?
Mark Ruffalo

TV or Films?

Any advice to upcoming writers?

That’s Interesting (laughs). Alright Jyoti it was a pleasure chatting up with you.
Same here (smiles).

I wish you all the very best for your future and I hope you inspire more and more budding as well as established writers to stand for their rights and the situation definitely changes for the writer community of which even I am a part of (smiles).
Hopefully (fingers crossed).

Chai With Shai: Gays and Lesbians are not criminals – Tonje Gjevjon

Last week saw the release of Dunno Y2  the much awaited sequel of the controversial and much appreciated Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyon! released in 2010. Today on Chai With Shai we have the co-director of Dunno Y2 – Tonje Gjevjon sipping the customary chai with me along as we discuss all about the LGBT community issues apart from her first Indo-Norwegian movie collaboration. Here are excerpts of our chat.

Tonje Gjevjon

Congrats on Dunno Y2 (smiles)
Thanks (smiles back)

So tell me how did this movie take shape?
Me and my performance group (The Hungry Hearts) met Yuvraaj and Kapil at Tel Aviv Gay and Lesbian Film Festival where Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyon was screened and where my performance band had a concert. We liked the film, Kapil and Yuvraaj liked our performance concert and we became friends. Then after a year we started talking about the possibility to make a feature film together. In 2014 an Indian team of about 30 people came to Norway and we started the shooting of Dunno Y2… Life is A Moment.

Wow! I heard that the movie is partly inspired by your life, how true is it?
In the film there is a story about a lesbian couple, so Edith (my wife) and I actually play ourselves. In the film we reveal the way we met in real life so yes, the movie is partly inspired by our life (smiles).

How did you meet your wife?
In a lesbian bar where Edith worked as bartender (giggles).  I fell in love the moment I met her beautiful eyes. To get her attention I danced for her (blushes).

That’s an amazing story (winks). Sanjay Sharma and you share directorial credits for DY2. So how was the work divided and how was it collaborating with an Indian director?
Sometimes we directed together, sometimes he directed and sometimes I directed. Intimate love sequences and confrontation scenes I directed. Sanjay is way more experienced than me as a director, and I learned a lot from him. We also had the best cinematogrpher in the world in K. Ramsing and he gave us the most beautiful shots (smiles). He is brilliant and the beauty the audience will see on-screen is the result of collaboration between K. Ramsingh, Sanjay Sharma and I.

Tonje Gjevjon Shaiju Mathew LGBT Kapil Sharma
Tonje and wife Edith

The collaboration was kind of difficult because Bollywood films are glamorous and colorful and Norwegian films are realistic and kind of simple. Our aim was to mix Norwegian and Indian film directing to convey the gap between the two very different cultures. Movies Masti Magic Studios brought a men only team, and in my team we were mostly women (laughs). So of course we had our disagreements. Sometimes it was necessary to take a decision, but we got through and I am proud of what we have achieved (smiles).

How is the LGBT situation in Norway compared to India?
In Norway LGBT people are considered equal to heterosexual people and it is of course legal to practice sex and get married for gay individuals. We have the same rights as heterosexuals. We have gay saunas for gay men, and areas out in nature where especially gay men meet and have sex. We have beaches for LGBT people and LGBT bars and discotheques. So to be gay in Norway is easy compared to India where it is forbidden by penal code 377 (smiles).

That’s nice to hear (smiles). So what kind of reaction did DY2 gather after its screening at various festivals and in India?
In Oslo it got standing ovation (proudly). In India young boys came to me after the screenings and told me how important it is to make these kind of films. They also asked questions about LGBT rights in Norway and told me they hope the future will bring same LGBT rights to India.

Tell us something about working with Yuvraaj and Kapil?
They are both brilliant actors. They are always prepared and they really listen when I as director told them what kind of emotions I wanted them to express. They are extremely professional.

Have you watched any Bollywood movies? Which is your favorite movie among them?
I have seen lots of Bollywood movies, Gulaab Gang is my favorite. I hope there will be more Bollywood films with female perspective, with lesbians, feminists and girl power. Also girls should be able to see films where women are strong super-heroines that can change the world. I find Bollywood films with male main stories very boring (frowns). As audience and a woman I want to see films with female perspectives.

Going ahead will you be collaborating with more filmmakers from India?
Maybe (pauses). For sure I will have cinematographer K. Ramsingh in my future projects. I was so lucky to be invited to transgender/hijras event with Kinnar Maa Trust when I was in Mumbai and I am so impressed by the work this organization does for Hijra community’s rights. It was a very strong experience with so beautiful and strong Hijra people. I would love to make a film about the hijra community and their fight for equal rights. The way they are trying to change the mindset of Indian society towards hijras and how they are educating hijras so they can get work and by this change their position in the society is quite impressing (smiles). And the way they dance and express themselves through dance, art, music theatre is beautiful and intelligent. I LOVE them!


Being gay is illegal in India. What are your thoughts about the same?
Gays, Lesbians, Transgenders, Bisexuals are not criminals, we make love – not crime. This law is a shame on India – it makes India look uncivilized and uneducated. To be a LGBT person is a human right. India should support human rights and equality between men, women, transgender people, lesbians, bisexuals and homosexuals.

What are your future plans?
Our band The Hungry Hearts is releasing its first music album called “Dyke Forever” in November. It will have 11 electro pop disco songs about lesbian love. Also my production company, Blylaget Film, is making a documentary on Indian censorship and freedom of expression (smiles).

(Smiles) Any advice to the LGBT community members in India?
Yes, make art, films, music about LGBT issues. Be visible – cultural expression makes visibility. In all cultures gays are more visible than lesbians, transgender or bisexuals. If LGBT society in India really want to fight for equal rights be sure to have focus also on the lesbians and transgender people – remember that woman everywhere in the world in many ways have a lower status than men. If you really want to change things the fight for women rights are very important to support. So my advice is that LGBT organizations should collaborate and include women rights.

Okay now let’s have some fun…
Cool! I was waiting for the rapid fire (giggles)

Okay… so you have gone through my previous chats huh?
Yes (winks) and I totally love it (smiles)

premiere 1

Well then brace yourself…
Here is the first one coming to you… Who is the sexiest female actor you want to go on a date?
Juhi Chawla

Wow… (smiles) What turns you on in a woman?
Sensuality and intelligence (smiles)

Aha… (smiles) Long drives or candlelit dinners? 
Ahem… Long drives

What is that one thing in you that irritates Edith?
Losing house keys (giggles)

One night stands or committed relationship? (peers) 
Committed relationship (winks)

Love is ….?
Beautiful (laughs)

It was great talking to you Tonje.
Same here (shakes hand)

I wish you luck in all your future endeavours and let’s catch up every time you are in India (smiles)
Definitely! (smiles)

Chai With Shai Xclusive: Shah Rukh should show some inclination towards alternate productions – Anant Mahadevan

If there is one director who has learnt the art of balancing Art cinema with Commercial potboilers in India, then it is none other than Anant Mahadevan. He is one director who I believe follows his heart and makes movies around subjects that he believes in without caring about its Box Office results. Case in point are movies like Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Dil Maange More, Aksar, Staying Alive, Xpose, Mee Sindhutai Sapkal and Gour Hari Dastaan among others. It is a proud moment for me as I am blessed to interview my favorite actor-director Anant Mahadevan today over a cup of chai and cookies. Here is an excerpt of our intense chat.


On the onset Anantji let me congratulate you on Gour Hari Dastaan. It was one of the most sincere movies I saw this year. How did the idea take shape?
(Smiles) Das’ story in a tabloid set me thinking about the “absurdity” of the drama. A man having to fight for an identity in his own country…a country he had helped to free. Why was this country living in a constant state of denial and untruth? Was the freedom that Das fought for abused and corrupted? The man opened up several layers to ponder about and translate into cinema that was at once a personal account and a political statement.

Right… So, how did your journey with Bollywood start?
I was self-tutored in the arts, particularly cinema. The film society and festival screenings exposed me to the work of masters from Europe, Asia and the Americas. But it wasn’t easy to start off making the films one wanted to make. I often wish I had started with Staying Alive and then gone on to Red Alert, Mee Sindhutai Sapkal, Gour Hari Dastaan and now Rough Book and Life is Good. But like they say, the brook has to flow through marshy land to open up into the river. I had to bide my time. Mainstream cinema helped me to get recognition and contacts.

In Bollywood you either see mainstream commercial movies or independent art movies. It is rare or I must say unheard of a director like you whose movie repertoire has a mix of both hard-core commercial potboilers as well as simple artistic movies. How do you balance it out?
I don’t know whether that is something to be proud of (throwing his hands in the air)Mainstream cinema often demands compromises and you wind up being dissatisfied at the end of it all. Like I said, it was some sort of pre-requisite to bring in the kind of cinema I was yearning to do. In the process I got this tag of being at home with “mainstream” and “independent” cinema. How I wish mainstream cinema would permit more sensibilities so that one could emulate a Billy Wilder, Scorcese or Spielberg who are the people who have pulled off both worlds so well (smiles).

You are one of the most talented actors in our industry. I have seen how well you own a character and turn yourself into that character eg: The villainous role in Khiladi, the fatherly roles in several movies, the comic role in Ghar Jamai etc. then why do we see so less of you in movies as an actor?
I have had my fill of blockbuster movies like Khiladi, Baazigar, Ishq, Baadshah, Gardish et al. They gave me some fine screen time and I still enjoy the adulation… But currently the scene tends to marginalize actors like me who want to sink their teeth into something substantial. Television has become a cruel joke and popular cinema ends up making you look redundant. So, I have to wait patiently for a Papanaasam to come and whet my appetite (smiles). I would now want to work with the masters of regional cinema like Shaji Karun or Buddadheb Das Gupta and others, and portray some memorable characters.


How did the Papanasam role come to you?
Kamal Haasan, after what seemed an eternity, called to find out if I would be interested to do a bilingual in Vishwaroopam 2. We had a great time filming it and the bonding strengthened. So when he recommended me for Uttama Villain, I was cursing my luck as I was shooting for Xpose in Mumbai on the same dates. But Kamal didn’t hold that against me. He along with director Jeetu Joseph who had made the original Drishyam cast me in the pivotal role of the boy’s father. Papanaasam brought me some of my best critical acclaim as an actor and I am grateful for that (smiles).

I loved your character in Papanasam (smiles) you brought in a different persona to the role which was quite different from what Siddique did in the original.
Thank you (smiles).

Any interesting incidents you can narrate while working with Kamal Hasanji in Vishwaroopam 2 and Papanasam?
Kamal would so gracefully prepare coffee for me from the percolator he carried with him and then discussions over life and cinema would begin. He had so much to share and lunch breaks were brainstorming sessions. There was this wonderful vibe between us… the thirst to discuss everything under the sun. That was so different from the Hindi film scene where only gossip dominates amidst actors (smiles).

You have worked with Aamir and Shah Rukh Khan whom did you enjoy working with?
I had more screen time and off-screen time with Shah Rukh. Baazigar, Baadshah and Yes Boss were three films I did with him. I then went on to direct his first fiction series for television Ghar Ki Baat Hai produced under Red Chillies’ Idiot Box.

With Aamir it was a guest appearance in Akele Hum Akele Tum where we enjoyed playing chess between shots, and the rather lacklustre Mann. So I guess Shah Rukh takes the bigger share of the pie (laughs). If only he showed some inclination towards substantial alternate productions, I could have shot some interesting films as director for his company. But I guess the commercial wave let loose by people around him will never let that happen (frowns).


The music in all your commercial movies have been chartbusters. How much do you contribute in your movie’s music or is it left to the music composers to come up with their own compositions?
I have a great affinity for music and melody is a trait I always cherish. Having devoured the great compositions of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, I was quite rigid about the best possible compositions from the mind of a music director for my films. I was lucky to get the rights to recreate Panchamda’s works in my debut Dil Vil Pyar Vyar while Himmesh came up with some lovely romantic melodies and toe-tapping numbers in Dil Maange More and Aksar. So did Anu Malik who recreated the Rajasthan ethos in Anamika. Sometimes I miss making musicals, but now I must not succumb to the formula again (smiles).

Out of all the actors you have directed in your movies, who is your favorite?
It would be tough to answer that. Suniel Shetty worked really hard in Red Alert, though it is Vinay Pathak who has me applauding each time I watch Gour Hari Dastaan-The Freedom File. The thought and work behind the portrayal of Das could open up an entire master’s class, though some critics displayed their utter lack of understanding of an actor’s preparation and pitching, and misread the whole performance.

Mee Sindhutai Sapkal gave you 4 National Awards, however Gour Hari Dastaan did not even get nominated for any. Any thoughts?
The 4 National awards for Mee Sindhutai Sapkal reinstated my faith in things working on merit in this country. But I was dismayed, to say the least, that Gour Hari Dastaan did not fetch even an award for maestros like Resul Pookutty and Dr L Subramaniam this year, forget Vinay Pathak! (pause) Did it not deserve even to be the best Hindi film, if not anything else? It was a real shocker but I have grown out of it and conditioned myself not to expect anything in future even if I have created a highly rewarding slice of cinema.

How difficult is it to tell a story of a living personality?
A tough call (frowns). You have your task cut out. The challenge is to steer clear of a documentary, yet dramatize the life without taking too much licences. Of late making biopics has become a sensational joke in Hindi cinema. The character is exploited within the parameters of the formula and tom-tomed as a true story. Both in Sindhutai Sapkal and Gour Hari Das’ cases I was extra cautious to recreate the lives without resorting to clichés and melodrama. And specially when dealing with a living person, the research and approach has to be just right.

rough book tannishtha amaan

Are you directing Xpose 2?
No Xpose 2 is not on the cards.

You have the distinction of giving Emraan Hashmi the first hit outside Bhatt camp. How was it working with Emraan?
Emraan is quite a trooper. He had the guts to say “yes” to a character that dies three-fourth into a film where the villain [Dino Morea] walks away with murder. He was a real professional who enjoyed his moments before the camera and was totally devoid of tantrums or attitude.

How comfortable were you while directing a Marathi movie? Any challenges you faced during the shoot of Sindhutai Sapkal?
Marathi has been a second language right from my school days, so the comfort levels were bang-on. Of course changing the style of Marathi actors to a more natural tone was the task, and I had to make them shed their sing-song dialogue delivery. But the filming was one of the best experiences I had and the rawness of the subject was appreciated worldwide.

You have worked in both Tollywood and Bollywood. What is the major difference you saw in both industries?
I have only worked as an actor in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, I hate those “wooden” nicknames (irritated) they are a disciplined lot and take their schedules seriously. In many ways far more organised than the Hindi film scene where laptops and emails are passed off as hectic prep activity.

ghd vinay,tannishtha,ranvir

So what are your future projects as an actor as well as a director?
ROUGH BOOK (excitedly), a gritty analysis of the education scene in India is my new film and all set to be theatrically screened soon. Principals, teachers and educationists who have seen previews are recommending it to scores of parents and students and I am hoping that the film becomes a cult film for youth. There is also another major biopic I am working on now after Rough Book.

Okay (smiles)… Anantji we have a small fun segment in Chai With Shai where I will ask you few questions and you have to reply in one word.
Great! (smiles)

So brace yourself…here is the first question (winks) Himesh Reshamiyya as an actor or music director?
Music Director

Even I would agree to it (smiles)… Which is your favorite movie Sindhu Tai Sapkal or Gour Hari Dastaan?
Gour Hari Dastaan, because it made me grow as a director

Okay here comes a difficult one (rubbing my hands) pick your favorite movie amongst Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Dil Maange More, Aksar and Xpose.
(smiles) Dil Vil Pyar Vyar

Konkona Sen or Tejaswini Pandit?
Both a class of their own


Tollywood Err…. (pauses) South Indian Movies or Hindi Movies?
The South (chuckles),

Who is the most promising star among the younger lot?
Rajkumar Rao

That was fast (smiles)… Okay, your all-time favorite movie?
A Separation [Iran]

If given a choice which old classic would you like to remake?
No remakes for me (waving his hand)…Victoria 203 is a lesson learnt (laughs)

Which book would you like to ever adapt into a movie?
The book that scientist Nambinarayan has just written on the ISRO scandal. In fact am already doing it (smiles).

Last not the least, any advice to your fans?
This is not a career which is a last resort…education, passion, perseverance and resistance to temptation are the key-words (smiles).

Well said Sir, I am sure most of the youngsters will definitely take your advice seriously and act upon it. Thank you so much for being a part of my chat series, looking forward to many more straight-from-the-heart movies from you in the future.

Good Bye!

Chai With Shai XCLUSIVE: Kapil Sharma wants to ROMANCE Ranbir Kapoor!

Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyu is regarded as the torchbearer for LGBT films from India after it got applauded and appreciated internationally. The movie not only bagged 11 international awards but also gave way to the first Indian-Norwegian movie collaboration with its sequel Dunno Y2, which is releasing coming Friday. Today on ‘Chai With Shai’ we have Kapil Sharma, my dear friend and the lead actor of the Dunno Y series opening up to me about everything from movies to his life, and future ahead over the customary Cutting Chai! Here are some excerpts from our conversation.


From a child actor to a mature actor how has your journey been so far?
Fantastic! As a kid I got the opportunity to act with bigwigs like Dharamji and Rakheeji in superhit films like Shradhanjali, Hukumat etc. Infact I enjoyed my short little stint of fame in my school as I always grabbed a lot of attention from my friends, teachers and relatives (smiles).

I can understand (smiles)
I wonder at times how I managed to act when at that age as I was a shy kid. I used to get nervous every time, even while speaking to guests visiting our home. That does not mean I am now super confident and extrovert (laughs) I am still a shy and introvert person however, even now as well as when I was a kid, I just transform into some other person the moment I face the camera.

How was it growing up being Anil Sharma’s younger brother? How much did he inspire you to take your baby steps in Bollywood?
We are a big family. I have four older brothers and one sister. Being the youngest Anil Bhaiya was always like a father figure. I remember at times he used to come to pick me from school and we used to walk all the way home. He used to take me for ice cream treats and we used to have a lot of fun but when he had to be strict he was really strict.

Being Anil Sharma’s brother, K. C Sharmas’ son, I learnt a lot of things about this industry by default. Like I have seen phases when the attitude of the industry people changed with every Hit or Flop they made. I have seen them hitting the zenith and then falling down, only to rise back and so on. Their success and failure somewhere made me realize early in my life that nothing is permanent here. My Mantra – Never get carried away by success and never destroy yourself when you are down.

Also I learnt from Anil Bhaiya that you cannot take your success or good work for granted. One cannot live on their past laurels, instead one has to work harder and reinvent yourself continuously or this industry will not care if you are the son of a popular person or not.


So true (frowns)… Tell me your earliest memories about Bollywood?
Since my father had started film production even before I was born, I was exposed to the movie industry from birth. At that time we had a small 1BHK house which also doubled up as my father’s office, so there was some or the other work related activities always happening at our home, all the time. Also as my father is also an astrologer, lot of industry people dropped at our home for consultation. Therefore, from childhood I was exposed to film personalities at close quarters.

I remember my brothers regularly watched classics repeatedly at home. Classics like Pyaasa, Mughal-E-Azam, Sholay, Amar Akbar Anthony etc. apart from English classics were seen. I was subconsciously exposed to all kind of cinema and for me biggest hobby was to watch films (laughs).

Same here (joins in laughter) even now I have to watch one more a day or I can’t sleep.
That’s the magic of movies I believe (smiles). Every week I had to see one film in theater otherwise I would cry (laughs) therefore, my mom used to force my brothers on my weekly holidays to take me for a movie. I used to imitate dance moves of actors and actresses I used to watch in those movies (laughs out loud).

You started out with a commercial movie like Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo directed by your brother Anil Sharma starring Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Bobby Deol. How was your experience working on that movie?
It was a tough movie to do. When I signed the film I actually didn’t realise that I am so fortunate that I am working with The Amitabh Bachchan in my first film itself. For this film I went for a one month army training at an army cantonment. I stayed over there as a jawan and followed everyday rituals of training, without giving away my true identity. The training was gruesome and I felt  a sense of achievement the day I completed it (smiles).

For the role, I also worked on my Haryanvi accent. Everyday shooting with mega stars like Amitabh Bachchan , Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Danny Dengzongpa, Naghma and thousands of crowds, and a huge unit in difficult locales of Manali and Rajasthan in the worst temperatures (sighs), was tough but worth cherishing for life time (smiles).

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What was it that prompted you to experiment with a controversial subject in Dunno Y1?
Most of the Bollywood films portrayed gay characters in a clichéd way by caricaturing them and always used them for cheap fun. Films never touched the human side.

True… So how did it take shape?
Then I saw Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain and it made me think. I felt a sensitive story like it should also be made in India. But many people suggested me that it’s not the right time to make a movie on similar subject. But I feel there is no right or wrong time for a good story. If it has to be told it has to be told… Period (smiles).

How did you and Yuvraaj meet?
Yuvraaj and I initially met in our dance class. Though we were always cordial with each other, we became good friends once we started working on this film (smiles).

Lata Mangeshkar had long stopped accepting any singing assignments what was it that prompted her to sing one song each in both your movies?
I would say I am very very lucky. In the last 5 years she refused offers from some of the biggest directors and production houses, yet she sang for us in both the films. In fact in the last 5 years, ours is the only Hindi feature film in which she has sung songs (smiles). For me music means Lataji and my day is incomplete without listening even one song of hers. It was my dream that Lataji should sing for at least one movie of mine and the universe granted my wish (smiles). It is rightly said that what you really desire for, the universe does its best to get it to you. I guess when we approached her, both the times somehow she just could not refuse. But I am greedy and have taken a promise from her that she will sing for my next film too (laughs).


Did you ever feel that a movie with a gay theme will be banned by the purists and you might never see it release in India?
When we started the film, we thought it will create curiosity, but then we never thought that we would get such extreme reactions wherein we even got life threats via anonymous letters during the first movie’s release. Then there was a protest against the movie lead by a political party who stood outside my house (sighs).

You never felt like giving up?
Never! In fact most of the multiplexes had refused to screen the film for its theme even after the movie starred legends like Helenji, Zeenat Aman and Kabir Bedi. That was in fact a very big shock. Hopefully we are expecting this time around there will be changes in the mindset of those people who protested and theaters who refused to screen.

Is Dunno Y2 a continuation of what we saw in the first movie or a totally new story with the same set of actors?
Will this time the story is completely new. But the names of our characters are same of last films. This time we meet in a new background and with a different approach. Last time the film was more serious this time also the message is the same but in a more fun and celebration way.

What is DunnoY2 all about? (story in brief)
Dunno Y2 is a sweet funny love story between a Pakistani and Indian boy. It gives a message that love is above gender, religion, race and manmade boundaries.

What is the USP of DY2?
The freshness in the story. A different approach of script which is an amalgamation of Indian and Norwegian sensibilities. The beautiful locations of Norway and the lovely music and of course our performances (winks).


How confident are you of Dunno Y2 getting acceptance in present scenario?
This time we are much more confident with the acceptance. The generation next is very cool and open-minded. We pray things go fine and our film should lead to more awareness and acceptance to the LGBT issue.

Dunno Y1 has reaped some of the prestigious awards how confident are you to repeat the same with Dunno Y2?
Well Dunno Y1 is considered a cult film worldwide as it won 11 international awards and it’s still getting screened in some or other part of the world. To touch this benchmark for the sequel is not easy. But still, Dunno Y2 started with its first screening at the prestigious Opera House of Oslo, that’s an honor for a film if it gets selected to screen there. Lot of Norwegian political dignitaries, artists saw the film there and their response was terrific. It was again recently shown in Norway at a festival where also it got a good response. It is now selected to screen at  other prestigious film festivals in Barcelona, Germany and another one in Norway. Well things have started moving. Lets see where the sequel’s journey leads to…(smiles).

What was the inspiration behind both the movies?
To send across a message of acceptance of human rights which has been ignored for years. To make films, which many may not dare to make, at the same time try to make those films entertaining and simple so that any common man may connect to them.

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How did Anilji react to your decision to make Dunno Y series?
Before we started Dunno Y 1, he wanted to hear the narration of the entire script. He had said that if he likes the script then only he will allow us to go ahead with the film. When he heard the narration, he loved the script and after that he never interfered in any creative aspect of the film. He is proud that Dunno Y has won so many awards and has reached internationally without any push from his end or any corporate or Godfather from the industry. He liked my acting very much especially my introduction scene and my emotional scenes. Now he is looking forward to see what we have made this time (smiles).

Where no actors in India dared Yuvraaj and you have fully gone ahead and shot some really steamy scenes how apprehensive were you while shooting such scenes?
I believe if you are an actor and after reading the script you have agreed to do a film, then it’s your responsibility to follow the vision of the director. If the script requires steamy scenes then one should go ahead and do it, because when you are performing those scenes you are not yourself, you are the character you are portraying. Though its natural, while shooting such shots at times hesitations and nervousness occurs, but then I keep on reminding myself that I am an actor and it’s part of my job.

Future ahead?
My next release is a crazy comedy called Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. I am playing an interesting character which you can say is a grown up version of Dennis the Menace (smiles). It stars some very fine actors like Anupam Kher, Vijay Raaz, Dilip Joshi, Makarand Deshpande, Govind Namdev, Prem Chopra, Kulraj Randhawa, Sneha Ullal and Moushumi Chatterjee’s daughter Meghaa Chatterjee. Couple of more projects are also in the pipeline.


Do we see Dunno Y3 happening (winks)?
I don’t know! As we had never planned Dunno Y2, similarly we have no idea about Dunno Y3 at least for now (winks). But, if fans of this franchise want more of it, then you never know it may happen (smiles broadly).

Okay enough of serious question answering… let’s move on to something fun.
Great! So what are we going to do?

After making such controversial movies, you should be the last one to worry about such things (laughs out loud together)
Okay (rubbing his hands together) Come on shoot!

Simple, I am going to ask you few questions for which you have to answer in one word (winks).
Okay (laughs) hope you won’t put me into trouble (winks).

Who is the most good-looking male actor in India?
Salman Khan

Mine too (winks). If given a chance which actor other than Yuvraaj would you like to cast as your gay lover in Dunno Y3?
Ranbir Kapoor (winks).

Aha! As Aryan who is your dream date other than Ashley in real life scenario?
Aryan has been flirtatious in both the parts. In part two his dream date is Ricky Martin (smiles).


One Night Stand or Committed relationship?
Both (winks).

What do you prefer a dream dinner date or a long drive with your lover?
Dream dinner date.

Wow (smiles) now the last question. Drumroll…Who is your favorite author?
I am sitting with him now (laughs).

Floored (smiles)! All the best for your movie Kapil and I am sure we get to see in many more movies portraying varied characters and I am sure you will definitely shine out as always.

So girls and guys, brace yourself as Dunno Y2 is going to hit the screens on 17th September at a theatre near you. Please go and watch it!

Chai With Shai Xclusive: Is Varun Dhawan Tara Alisha Berry’s ‘Perfect Boy’?

After featuring ‘The Perfect Boy’ Teeshay, how could I stay away from his ‘Perfect Girl’ Tara Alisha Berry? However, reaching out to this angelic beauty with a mesmerizing smile is no easy task. Presently filming for Vikram Bhatt’s ‘Love Games’ in Cape Town, we decided to Skype. Instead of the customary Cutting Chai Taasha (that’s how Tara is fondly called) decided to sip on her Green Chai while I sat with my favourite cup of brew as we chatted like overtly excited teenagers.


Taasha is not new to limelight. Although she started her career in a Telegu movie starring alongside Naga Chaitanya and Tamannah, she was well appreciated for her wonderful act in the movie ‘Mastram’ apart from getting accolades for her portrayal of Ashalata in Anurag Basu directed series ‘Stories By Rabindranath Tagore’ for Epic Channel. Here are excerpts from our interesting cross-continent chat.

From Mastram to Choker Bali to The Perfect Girl how has your journey been?
It has been absolutely amazing. I am blessed to be working on projects which I believe in 100% and where each team is so passionate about what they are doing!

How did you bag The Perfect Girl?
A common friend recommended me to Prakash. I went to meet him, auditioned and got the part (smiles).

In one line how will you describe your character in The Perfect Girl?
Vedika is a very reserved person who is trapped in a lot of emotional turmoil, but doesn’t let the world see it, meeting Jay is cathartic for her and she comes into her own after meeting him.

Any funny incidents during the shoot?
Yeah (laughs) I remember these two guys who used to follow us to every location and ask us to take pics with them and sign autographs. Also they used to ask our director and AD’s to take their auditions for a role in the film! (continue to laugh)


Well that’s funny (laughs)… So did they bag any role yet?
No idea.

So how was Prakash as a director?
He is wonderful. He is very clear about what he wants from his actors. Also he is someone who knows his characters in and out so he can tell you exactly what the motivation is and thought behind everything the character does or says. It was a pleasure working with him!

Do you believe the concept of a ‘Perfect Guy’ exists?
(Laughs out loud) Not at all! I don’t believe there is anyone who is perfect for anybody. Relationships take a lot of hard work. Although you can definitely adjust and work on them to make them “perfect” but I don’t think any person is perfect for another.

Okay let’s assume that A Perfect Guy concept exists in this world then who would be yours?
Hmmm (pauses) My perfect guy!

Come on give it a thought
See I have no idea but there are things I would look for in a guy. He must be kind, positive, generous of heart and spirit, and should always be there for me, no matter what!

How open are you when it comes to experimenting with characters and looks? How about a role like what Priyanka played in Aitraaz or Bandini by Nutan?
I would love to experiment! I love Nutanji and would LOVE to explore a role like that.

Future ahead?
I am currently in Cape Town, obviously that’s why we are Skyping (laughs) shooting for Vikram Bhatt’s next called “Love Games”, I have also completed “Gun Pe Done” directed by Abhik Bhanu which should release soon and a Bengali short film called “Moreechika” directed by Madhur Tyagi.


Okay now Tara I am going to ask you few questions where I want you to answer in one word
Alright (smiles)

(After taking a deep breath) Yup!

Who amongst Varun Dhawan, Siddharth Malhotra, Sooraj Pancholi, Teeshay is closest to your description of a Perfect Guy?
Hmm (thinks for a second) Well I am a huge fan of Varun! So Varun (smiles)

Who is hotter Teeshay or Varun Dhawan?
Javier Bardem (bites her tongue)

That was not an option (smiles)
Yeah but I find Javier HOTTER (laughs)

Smart Girl (winks) Okay next… Akhilesh Jaiswal or Prakash Nambiar?
Prakash Nambiar!

Tollywood or Bollywood?

Alia Bhatt or Shraddha Kapoor the better singer?
Alia Bhatt.

Naga Chaitanya, Teeshay or Rahul Bagga your favorite co-star?
Rahul Bagga

One Night Stand or Steady Date?
Steady date (giggles)

Sunny Leone, Deepika Padukone, Alia Bhatt – who has the best figure?
Deepika Padukone


Who looks better without a shirt – Hrithik, Salman, SRK, John?

Aha! Great choice (winks) Okay what’s your ‘Wildest Fantasy’?
Let that remain wild (laughs out loud)

Favourite Romantic Jodi
Salman and Madhuri

Dream role?

Who is your closest competitor?
Myself! (laughs)

Aha Nice… (smiles) Your dream director?
Vikram Aditya Motwane

Favorite Author?
You (laughs)

You made my day (beaming). I give you full marks for that!

Again let me remind you, The Perfect Girl is releasing tomorrow so guys and girls please go and watch this sweet little movie at a theatre near you. If you do then I am sure you will definitely find your own Perfect Girl and I am not referring to Tara here 😛

Chai With Shai: Who’s Teeshay’s Perfect Girl and why he needs a deserted island?!

IMG_20141003_044544The Perfect Girl is already creating a lot of buzz everywhere with its amazing promos, songs and fresh cast. Today I have the leading man of The Perfect Girl – Teeshay sitting with me discussing his long journey from commercials to commercial movies in a very short span. Here are excerpts from my discussion with my bestie and the upcoming heart-throb of Bollywood who is already making many young girls swoon with his charm and smile.

Commercials to TV serials to theater to now mainstream cinema, how did this journey happen?
You forgot anchoring and teaching acting at an NGO and directing short plays (laughs). Well the transition happened in a flow, I didn’t plan it. I guess GOD is on my side, He wanted me to experiment with everything before the big game. All these things lead to one another and each one has its own charm and learnings which I adapted to and took away as experience.

How much did you prepare for this role? Any inspiration / character you had in mind to refer to?
Well this film required me to be spontaneous because there is a lot of give and take as far as the scenes are concerned. I just had one week to prepare after I signed the film and there were few workshops and readings with my co-star Tara Alisha Berry before we started shooting. Therefore, we decided to just feed of each other rather than prepare individually.

What is The Perfect Girl all about?
It’s essentially about how two teenagers accidentally meet, spend time (the girl is reluctant initially but the guy with his charm convinces her to spend at least 10 minutes and give him a chance) and realise they are perfect for each other. But at that age people have dreams, ambitions, goals, family pressures, etc. therefore they have to part ways. Many years later the guy crosses the path with the same girl in a crowd but by the time he realises who she is, the girl disappears in the crowd. The film is about whether LIFE gives your FIRST LOVE A SECOND CHANCE.

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How different is the character played by you in this movie compared to your characters in the previous movies and serials?
In this movie I was fortunate enough to play both young and old JAY (my character in the movie) who are poles apart personality wise because of life’s experiences. However, his mature and responsible demeanour along with his wicked sense of humour remain intact. The combination of all three characteristics is something that differentiates from all the other characters I have played so far.

How did Prakash discover you?
Well that is an interesting story. The casting director of the film Neha Pandey had seen my work somewhere and she recommended me to Prakash who then looked up my pictures on Google. After he was convinced that I suited the part look-wise that’s when he contacted me on Facebook with the synopsis of the movie. I was completely sold on the concept and the very next day I met him and auditioned for the role. After a couple of days, precisely a day before my birthday, I was signed the movie (smiles).

Amongst Alia, Shraddha, Tara, Kriti Sanon who is closest to your description of a Perfect Girl? Why?
See, among all the names you took, personally I know Tara very well. So theoretically it would be Tara but if you ask me to choose one stating that they are similar in real life as they appear on reel then Kriti Sanon. A friend of mine used to be her manager so I know about Kriti ever since she started modelling. She is a down to earth and very talented girl and I adore her.

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What is your wildest fantasy when it comes to pleasing your Perfect Girl?
Give me a deserted island first (laughs).

What are the qualities you look in your Perfect Girl?
Down to earth, easy to talk to, unassuming and intelligent. Oh yeah a bit sexy too (winks).

A bit?
Well… (blushes).

Who is your dream date?
Jennifer Lawrence from Hollywood and Katrina from Bollywood.

Okay let’s have a rapid fire…

Who is hotter Tara or Alia?
Alia is HOT, Tara is beautiful.

Well just one name please…
You will put me in trouble…

Okay… (smiles) Khan of all seasons – Aamir, Salman, Shah Rukh?
Shah Rukh.

Vishal Mahadkar or Prakash Nambiar?

Smart (smiles) Ranbir Kapoor or Ranveer Singh the better actor?

Your closest competitor – Varun Dhawan or Sooraj Pancholi?
This will make me sound pompous but if you put a gun on my head then VARUN DHAWAN (laughs).

Everest or Hotel Gulmohar Grand?
Gulmohar Grand.

One Night Stand or Steady Date?
Steady Date.

How will you end your first date with your Perfect Girl – with a kiss or …?
I will end it by dropping her to her house… rest God knows (throws his hands up and laughs).

Arranged Marriage or Love Marriage?
Love Marriage.

Movies or Television?
Movies, Movies, Movies.

The Perfect Girl starring Teeshay and Tara Alisha Berry directed by Prakash Nambiar will be releasing on 11th September 2015.

Chai With Shai EXCLUSIVE: An Old Australian Lady inspired The Perfect Girl – Prakash Nambiar

Monsoons are here and so are some high-profile movies releasing one after another every Friday. In midst of all the big budget extravaganzas, is a small movie ‘with a BIG heart’ – The Perfect Girl directed by debutant Prakash Nambiar, that is slowly getting noticed as it holds its tiny little head high as the release date nears.

On a drizzling Sunday afternoon I caught up with Prakash over some piping hot chai and pakodas, and chatted everything under the sun along with his debut movie. Here are some excerpts of our conversation;


What is The Perfect Girl all about?
The Perfect Girl is a story about a couple who meet in the tourist town of Panjim, Goa, fall in love and part ways. They cross each other in a crowd 14 years later but the memories of that meeting have faded away. The guy gets a feeling that he has seen her somewhere, but by the time he realises who the girl was, she gets engulfed in the crowd leaving no trace.

How did your affair with Bollywood start?
It started with Mere Yaar Ki Shaadi Hai produced by YRF and directed by Sanjay Gadhvi. I was a multimedia designer back in 2001 and bagged the project for doing their movie websites and interactive press CDs. The more I got involved in my work, the more I got attracted to the magic of Bollywood.

How did The Perfect Girl (script) take shape? Any real life inspirations?
There were many inspirations. The germ of the idea came in 2006 when I met an old Australian lady in Panjim. We talked for over an hour and we enjoyed each others company. She had to leave for Bangalore, and after she left I realised we didn’t even exchange our names. That’s when the idea of two people falling in love over a conversation came into my mind. Then a couple of days later I walked into the inner lanes of Panjim and was mesmerized by the architecture. I realised nobody had ever exploited Goa’s architecture in any of the films. During that time I happened to see Richard Linklater’s Before Sunset although I hadn’t seen Before Sunrise then. And then the idea took shape into The Perfect Girl.

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How did you discover Teeshay and Tara for their respective roles?
Through auditions. Tara was referred by a friend, while Teeshay was found by our casting director

Can you narrate some funny incidents that took place during the shoot?
There were many. But I particularly remember about two guys who were following Teeshay and Tara everywhere we went. They wanted to act in our film and finally we took a hilarious audition after which they were convinced they would become good comedians. Today they have found their footing in Bollywood.

We have heard Siddharth Mahadevan as a singer. How did he get associated with this project as a composer?
I met him and Soumil Shringarpure at a narration of a film that I had written dialogues for. He made us hear some of the compositions they had done for few Marathi films and I immediately felt a connect with their music. The project we met didn’t materialize and they came on board for The Perfect Girl 🙂

What is the USP of your movie?
The USP is its freshness – the cast, the music, the framing, the dialogues, the concept in short everything. The brief to everyone was to keep it simple and fresh. Besides that the point where the boy and the girl meet, the film happens in real-time.

What can the audience expect from TPG?
A fresh film which will warm your heart, make u smile and make u believe in the possibility of a perfect partner… well, only if u r single 😉


What are your feelings now as TPG is getting released finally?
The feeling is of contentment. The day we started the film to this day where the movie is releasing has been a huge learning curve. This film is like a film school for us till the completion and an MBA in marketing (laughs). All throughout we have used all our resources as efficiently as possible, be it filmmaking or P&A. What we could do within the resources available at our disposal, we have done it, now its time to let go and let the film embrace its destiny.

So in a nutshell, there is a feeling of contentment for what we have achieved and anxiety about where this film would take itself and each one of us in its journey over the box office.

Who is your Perfect Girl in real life?
My wife? That’s the safest answer i can give.

What’s next?
Have a script ready… but that’s after the release of this film.

The Perfect Girl produced by Udit Shivraj Pathak and directed by Prakash Nambiar is releasing at a theatre near you on 11th September 2015, so mark it on your calendar guys. It’s time to shower your love and appreciation to a small film with a BIG heart.