At the outset Zoya Akhtar seems emminently qualified to make a movie about the internals of the Indian film industry. But look closer, and you'll realize quickly that she might just be the best person to do so. She's grown up sorrounded by the environment she will portray in her directorial debut, she's bold enough to go where more jaded entities wouldn't and she comes from a family of hugely successful writers (she is daughter to Javed Akhtar and Honey Irani and sister to Farhan).
Zoya started her project with a tricky concept, a bunch of swirling rumors and years later ended up with just one bankable name - Hrithik Roshan. But as luck by chance would have it, things fell in place for her.
Movies that target the urban multiplexes became viable commercial projects. A bunch of very famous people (Aamir, Shahrukh, Salman, Shilpa Shetty, Kareena, Juhi Chawla, Shabana Azmi) signed up for cameos. Her composers Shankar Ehsaan Loy gave her a monster soundtrack to work with. And finally, last year her lead actor - Farhan Akhtar - helmed a sleeper hit of such proportions that Luck By Chance has become this year's most anticipated movie.
Luck By Chance opens on January 30 and Zoya is crazy busy right now. But she was enough of a sweetheart to stop by the Drift and answer all my annoying questions.
AspisDrift.com: Zoya, welcome to the Drift, thanks so much for doing this with me. Since Luck By Chance is a hatke film, I’ll do a hatke Q&A with you. I promise not to refer to it as LBC, ask you about those cameos or make nutty comparisons to OSO.
Often people cast jaane pehchaane people in their films and say “No really, they were the best choice for the role!” I’m hoping you’ll say something about Farhan like “Dikhne mein bura nahi, acting bhi kar leta hai, free mein kaam karega” when I ask you how he got the lead part in your movie. Well?
Zoya: Well since no one wanted to play the lead actor, I had shelved this film till a later date, moved onto doing something titled Kismet Talkies with Hrithik and Kareena.
Then Hrithik wanted to work on something else with me but I did not have the time or the patience at that point to start yet another project. Reema Kagti (director of Honeymoon Travels) suggested I cast Farhan. I saw his work in the film Fakir of Venice and loved him.
I spoke to him and he said yes right away. Now in retrospect he is the best thing that happened for the role.
AspisDrift.com: I’ve noticed in the promos that Farhan’s scenes seem to play to his strengths. He’s a pretty unconventional actor by Bollywood standards. Do you have him running around trees at all? Tugging at the heroine’s pallu maybe?
Zoya: Yes! We have him do all of the above:-) He plays a wannabe actor in the Hindi film industry (so) the story leads him around trees as well.
AspisDrift.com: You got a killer soundtrack delivered by SEL. Did you have any instructions for SEL about overall theme and feel? What was working on the music like?
Zoya: Absolutely - everyone who works on your film has to be given a brief by you. As a director you are the only link between each department and therefore it is your job to make sure everything works in conjunction and comes together.
I loved working with SEL. they heard the script, we discussed the situations, the mood I wanted. I gave them visual references of what I wanted the song to look like and made them hear some songs for a feel of the sound I wanted. They are fabulous and can reference a genre and zero in on the mood you looking for.
And the most important this is they are absolutely original.
AspisDrift.com: Zoya, I can’t find much information about your extended crew. Could you tell us a bit about your team? I heard Farah Khan did your choreography. Do you work with a production designer? Who did your costumes?
Zoya: Farah had just had her three babies and did not do it. Vaibhavi (Merchant) did Baware and Rajeev Surti did Pyaar Ki Daastaan. The production designer was Anuradha Parikh and costumes were Arjun Bhasin and Aparna Chandra. The DP was Carlos Catalan.
AspisDrift.com: I have a couple of personal questions to ask if you don’t mind. Farhan did an interview with me for Rock On!! and kept talking about what a good cook he was. True or was he just trying phaltu-mein to impress us?
Zoya: He is a good cook, mainly continental food.
AspisDrift.com: All siblings seem to fight. My two young sons love each other but could also kill each other sometimes. What is the most annoying thing you remember about your brother growing up that made you feel like pulling his hair out?
Zoya: He was always in my room...always...
AspisDrift.com: You are a writer. Do you write anything besides movies? Any poem or shaayari you can share with us?
Zoya: No! They are too personal.
AspisDrift.com: Final question and a mandatory one on the Drift for everyone: can you fold a fitted bed sheet?
Zoya: I can but the real question is - do I want to?
The Theatrical Trailer
The magnificent Sapnon se bhare naina and Baware
Luck By Chance on Facebook