Interview As Abbas Tyrewala’s ‘Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na’ gets rolling this week, Anuj Kumar engages the versatile artist in a chat

To start with we didn’t expect this from him. Somebody who has written the screenplays of the acclaimed Munnabhai MBBS and Maqbool and songs of the censored Paanch will make his directorial debut with a frothy college romance. Abbas Tyrewala has a hearty laugh. “There I was writing to achieve the vision of Raju, Vishal and Anurag. I know I have been part of the group which is working to restore a modicum of intelligence in Hindi cinema but as a director I wanted to reach out to crores and I always believed suspension of disbelief doesn’t mean taking your audience as stupid. And you must know at the time I was writing Maqbool, I was also writing Chandu Ke Chacha Ne for Channel V.” With songs like Papu Can’t Dance, he appears in similar mood in Jaane Tu….

He assures the college in Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na won’t be like the fantastic one in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Similarly he shares the film has many clichéd elements like what is true love and the airport climax but the treatment is realistic.

The film is being perceived as the launch vehicle of Imran Khan produced by his uncle Aamir Khan with the best possible ingredients like the music of A.R. Rahman, but Abbas has a few points to clear. “I took the script to the late Jhamu Sugandh and he agreed. We signed Imran because he suited the character Jai Singh Rathore. Jhamu asked me whom do you want as music composer. As I am as Rahman fan, I said can you sign him? He called him then and there and Rahman agreed. However, in the midst of production, Jhamu got into financial mess and the project got stuck. It was then that I went to Aamir and he came on board.” Did he intervene? “Not really. He only suggested that the film has too many English dialogues and I should cut them down if I want to reach out to a larger audience. At the same time he said if it hinders the flow then I should go with the original. I found it a relevant suggestion as at that time 40 percent of the film was in English.”

Non-violent person

Abbas reveals the character Raj Singh Rathore is very much like he was in college. “I was as non-violent and preferred female friends. In fact most of the characters are based on somebody around me.” Rathore and non-violence don’t go together, but Abbas says that’s the fun part which is explained in the film.

All praise for Imran, Abbas says he is so natural and has the commitment of his uncle. “I told him a Hindi film hero requires more flamboyance. He got flustered when I asked him to dance. It took me a long time to convince him.” As for Genelia, Abbas says she simply loves the camera. “I haven’t seen her work in Telugu films, but she is a much better actress than many actresses in Bollywood who excel in skin show but can’t act to save their mother’s life.”

Talking of similarities with Aamir, the media is full of stories how he is being launched as Aamir-2. “It is very unfortunate for the young actor. Yes, they have facial similarities because they come from the same gene pool, but why will a director go for Aamir 2 when Aamir 1 is still active? I needed Imran because he fit the character Raj. Period.”

But there is a conscious effort to remind the viewers the link between the two with lines like Papa Kehte Hain sneaked in between a song. “Yes, that is true. Mansoor (Khan) and I wanted to have a little fun at the expense of Aamir and he took it in the right spirit.”