chat Abhishek Kapoor on how Chetan Bhagat’s book and Gujarat’s kite flying season have inspired him to make Kai Po Che

Lunch is being served at five in the evening at Abhishek Kapoor’s Mumbai home. The director’s third film after Aryan (2006) and Rock On!! (2008), Kai Po Che (loosely translated as ‘I cut you’) releases on February 22 and the house buzzes with activity. But he remains unperturbed. “I have come to a stage in life where I am not disturbed by things. What can go wrong? How do you define ‘wrong’? I come from a lot of failure. A lot. I have only failed in my previous attempts — acting, directing, even though my first film Aryan is very close to my heart. I don’t get hassled now,” he says. In a world where Fridays decide fates, these are refreshing words. Kai Po Che (KPC) is based on Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes Of My Life and is about three friends Omi, Ishaan and Govind, roles that are being essayed by newcomers Amit Sadh, Sushant Singh Rajput and Rajkumar Yadav. “I have put in my thoughts into the film but Chetan has got due credit. I have rewritten Omi’s character completely and reworked some other bits too,” says Abhishek, obviously referring to the controversy over Chetan’s previous book-turned-film 3 Idiots .

“What attracted me to this book was, while I must confess I had considered others, its story about middle-class India. While my previous ( Rock On!! ) was about the urban, responsive class, this would have a raw and emotional appeal. The 3 Mistakes Of My Life gave me a good platform for screenplay writing; it lent itself very well to the cinematic style,” he adds.

Making a film with newcomers was no cakewalk. “It is a difficult film to make in any case. It has a larger panorama, more sub-plots to weave together and it needed strong actors. I thought of doing it with established names but this film requires a certain budget. So I auditioned new actors. It took me a few sessions to give them the film. Sushant had a paunch when he joined the film and I gave him two months to become fit. Amit had to bulk up for the role and each of them showed that fervour required for a film like this.”

His film’s title is a Gujarati term that’s used mainly during the kite flying season across the state and translates into ‘I cut you’ displaying one-upmanship. Abhishek says he didn’t look for a more universal title for the movie as it is set in Gujarat and the term gelled well with the theme of the film. “Metaphorically too, Kai Po Che just flows with the vibe of the film. It’s a war cry during kite flying and very popular. I think people will relate to the title.”

The director denies any rift with his Rock On!! star and producer Farhan Akhtar over not directing the sequel to Rock On!! and pulling out of producing Kai Po Che . “When there are two creative people at work, you have to allow space for independent thinking. Yes, he was keen on the sequel and as a creative person I wanted to have the liberty on what to direct next. I wanted to direct KPC next and Farhan and I were not on the same page when it came to the film. I am glad that in UTV I found that matching of sensibilities. That doesn’t mean that Farhan and I will never work together again,” smiles Abhishek.

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