Friday, January 23, 2009

Luck by Perseverance: An Exclusive Interview with Zoya Akhtar

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

31 comments:

Mind Rush said...

Drift saab! Congratulations!
All I can do is :-))

Fabulous interview with insightful questions. I liked Zoya's answers but toward the end she seemed a bit short. She seems spunky and I got a great feel for the film.

Have you become one of those "film jounalists" that stars warn each other about??

"Yaar, that Drift guy! Mind it! He will ask you about bedsheets..."

Deep said...

rubaru with zoya! i love it. i hope luck by... becomes a hit. for the sake of my sanity - we need more movies that are smart.

Tanvi said...

Nice Interview, Aspi-G!

Anonymous said...

Like they say in theaters here: Front Row! I'm so there on Jan 30.

- Ritu

Anonymous said...

I am curious to see how Farhan and Konkana act together. They seem little mismatched but i'm a real fan of Konkana and am sure she'll do well.

Sania said...

I've been enchanted by Zoya Akhtar forever, awesome that you got an interview with her! I'll definitely be getting my hands on this film..

Hope the drifters are well, haven't been around lately. Hugs to all!

workhard said...

Good interview, hope she does good...

BPO work from home

musical said...

What an interview, Drift ji! Zoya's answer to the 'fitted sheet' question was the best ever :).

Thanks to Zoya for this!

I am looking forward to this movie. The promos look good. Apparently Hrithik has done a killer job with the Baawre track! Is it just me or do Farhan and Hrithik have some real resemblance, especially from the stills of the Rock on for Humanity concert?

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see an intelligent film...

Anonymous said...

Does Hrithik have a cameo on this or is it a bigger role? I'm watching mostly for Farhan so it doesn't matter.

Ashish said...

Aspi-Ji! I liked your interview a lot. The questions were very insightful and "hut-kay" as you had promised Zoya!

Zoya.. "simple" is "genius", which I feel is the mantra of your new film. All the best for Jan 30!!

Aspi said...

Everyone, I'm glad you enjoyed this. You can bet the Akhtars are making every Bollywood power list this year :). They'll definitely be on mine.

svr said...

Awesome, Aspi! She seems so ... full of spunk! If her movie is anything like her, it will do well, and maybe it'll play somewhere on the East Coast too.

The mention of Vaibhavi Merchant makes me wonder -- any choreographers in line to be interviewed? I have SO wanted to know how they visualize and execute a song. (And, that reminds me, questions for Chinmayi -- next weekend!)

Anonymous said...

I want to echo that sentiment. I want choreographers interviewed.

Aspi said...

Anon, svr, fair enough: I don't think I can reach big choreos, but I can talk to some of my favorite ones. Need to think of some questions though. If you have any, shoot them over and I'll do my best.

svr, I've asked Chinmayi if she'll do the Q&A. Will let you know what I hear. She's a very affable person though - I'll be surprised if she turns us down.

Mind Rush said...

Drift saab, do the KJo Koffee type forced choice interview questions:

1) Shammi Kapoor or Govinda?
2) Shahid Kapur or Hritik Roshan?
3) Hema Malini or Madhuri Dixit?
4) Pakeezah or Dhoom 2?
5) Salsa or Jazz?

And my favorite question....
6) Dharmendra or Abishek Bachchan?

meena said...

boot out the ghais, barjatyas and chopras... loving the new world. Yay akhters!

Great job networking aspi, Mind Rush is right, you probably are a 'topic of conversation'. Now all you have to do is get yourself trashed by ABSr on his blog and you will have truly arrived :-)

please please interview choreographers..dont forget to ask them how much they have to tailor the moves to the skill level of the star :0 altho very few non dancers left in the industry..

meena said...

..also do they (choreos) consciously design the signature moves of a song so that any moron from the aam junta can do it (a la om shanti om)?

girlie girl said...

Nice interview Aspi! YOu're right, the Akhtar clan is just booming right now!

Definitely interview Choreogrophers! I love the way Mind Rush set up the questions! I would just like to make a suggestion and also throw in Mithun in the mix cause let's face it, he was the original "disco Daancer"

musical said...

Love the list of questions by Mind Rush and Meena!

My question will be: How do the choreographers deal with show-offs ;).

Aspi said...

The question I really want to ask is: what would it take for you to say yes to a movie with Mimoh?

Lin said...

Farhan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Farhan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Farhan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Great job on scoring the interview with Zoya, Aspi.

Anonymous said...

wow - Aspi - you're moving in the big leagues now!

Loved her answer to the fitted sheet question, but thought the rest of her answers were somewhat brief...but like you said, she's very busy now...maybe a repeat interview after the movie releases, where we can get more insightful answers?

Bitterlemons

Anonymous said...

wow - Aspi - you're moving in the big leagues now!

Loved her answer to the fitted sheet question, but thought the rest of her answers were somewhat brief...but like you said, she's very busy now...maybe a repeat interview after the movie releases, where we can get more insightful answers?

Bitterlemons

Anonymous said...

wow - Aspi - you're moving in the big leagues now!

Loved her answer to the fitted sheet question, but thought the rest of her answers were somewhat brief...but like you said, she's very busy now...maybe a repeat interview after the movie releases, where we can get more insightful answers?

Bitterlemons

Anonymous said...

wow - Aspi - you're moving in the big leagues now!

Loved her answer to the fitted sheet question, but thought the rest of her answers were somewhat brief...but like you said, she's very busy now...maybe a repeat interview after the movie releases, where we can get more insightful answers?

Bitterlemons

Anonymous said...

wow - Aspi - you're moving in the big leagues now!

Loved her answer to the fitted sheet question, but thought the rest of her answers were somewhat brief...but like you said, she's very busy now...maybe a repeat interview after the movie releases, where we can get more insightful answers?

Bitterlemons

Anonymous said...

Bah - commenting 5 times ina row was not my intention! Please delete the spares...

Thx,

Bitterlemons

Deepa said...

Hi Aspi,

Great interview.. I hope you don't mind but I've posted this link on the Luck By Chance facebook group. (I know I should have asked you earlier, but I wasn't thinking)..Ofcourse I can always remove it if you are not happy.. :-))

Aspi said...

Deepa, thanks for posting the link. I like it when people send my stuff around - via link or just by copying. I don't mind either way.

Anonymous said...
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