Director Zoya Akhtar is excited about being part of Bombay Talkies, a tribute to a century of Indian cinema

Zoya Akhtar’s nursing a bad back just after her return from Goa. But that doesn’t stop this zealous woman from promoting her upcoming film Bombay Talkies (releasing on May 3). Curled up on a sofa, the writer-director says that her first co-directed project is an ode to cinema fans. “I think Indians have films in their DNA. So when Ashi (Dua, producer, Flying Unicorn Entertainment and of the film) came to me with the idea that a film ought to be made to commemorate 100 years of cinema, I immediately said yes. As you can gather from the trailer, each of our films is about a member of the audience for whom films are fascinating. Bombay Talkies is definitely an ode to the Indian film fan,” she says.

It is a cinematic anthology of four short films; one each by Zoya Akhtar, Dibakar Banerjee, Anurag Kashyap and Karan Johar. Conceived by Dua two years ago, the approximately 25-minute short films pay tribute to the world of cinema.

Zoya’s story is that of an eight-year old boy who loves the song-dance ‘Sheila Ki Jawaani’ the moment he sees it and fantasises about being as good a dancer as Katrina Kaif. “He is all of eight. He is different. At the core of the story lies our aversion to acceptance of unique personalities,” she says. Zoya has cast Katrina as herself in the film stating that the young actor has nearly achieved every success in the film world.

Asked if each director had to align his/her story with the rest, she replies in the negative. “Not at all. We knew we had to adhere to a story about Indian film lovers but neither of us knew what the other was making. Ashi knew Anurag and she roped him in first and then came Dibakar. And at a dinner meet, when I heard about their project I was terribly envious of them. I think they sensed it and asked me to come on board,” she laughs.

Zoya was ready with a story within two days. “Reema (Kagti, Zoya’s co-writer and director of Talaash) and I had written a story sometime back about a young boy who wanted to emulate Helen. It was called Zoom Zoom Darling and we thought it’d be appropriate for this film. We tweaked it almost overnight and got the script done,” she reveals.

“We are very different from each other as anyone who has seen even a single film of ours can tell,” says Zoya of her contemporaries. “I think that’s the great thing about Bombay Talkies. We should find an audience in every passionate film watcher.”