‘Karan is my guru’

Kareena with the children in 'We Are Family'.  

Moviegoers addicted to the new wave of Hindi cinema ushered in by Anurag Kashyap, Vikramaditya Motwane and Dibakar Banerjee cringe at the old-fashioned title We are Family, which at first brings to mind tearjerker soaps. But debut director Siddharth Malhotra swears by the film's heavy leaning on family bonds. “My family is most important to me and I am an emotional person. I was clear that if I ever make my own film, the concept should be something I can identify with,” emphasises Siddharth. The grandson of yesteryear villain Premnath discloses that he turned to film-making after watching Karan Johar's Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. “Karan is my guru,” he says.

This weekend, when Kajol, Kareena and Arjun Rampal tug at your heartstrings in the Stepmom-inspired flick, Siddharth is a relieved man. It was his dream to make a film inspired by one of his favourite Hollywood flick, Stepmom. The rights purchased, he did not want a frame-to-frame remake but an adaptation. “The soul of Stepmom and some of the key scenes are intact,” he says.

Siddharth has a pedigree to boast of. Being the grandson of Premnath also makes him a second cousin to Kareena Kapoor. “Yes, we are family,” laughs Siddharth. Once bit by the bug of film-making, he took up film studies at New York University, assisted Vidhu Vinod Chopra in Kareeb, Karan in Kal Ho Na Ho and Sooraj Barjatya in Vivaah besides being part of his family's Cinevista Studios and its television content. “Yes, I took my time to make my first film,” he says.

He adapted Stepmom with Arjun Rampal, Kareena and Kajol in mind. “I wanted Arjun because the hero had to be good looking enough for two women to fight over. But seriously, this movie presents Arjun beyond his good looks,” he says. And he was clear he wouldn't make the film if Kajol refused. “When you see the film you will know why. She is irreplaceable.”

Setting the film abroad was crucial, he insists. “In an Indian setting a woman would entrust her kids to a chachee, mausi, naani, mom or anyone else but the other woman. And I didn't want characters of random relatives. The story demanded very few characters and an abroad setting seemed to be the best,” says Siddharth. He had to present Australia in new light to prevent a Dil Chahta Hai déjà vu. A reccee helped.

Siddharth was bowled over by the St. Mary's cathedral and the 12 Apostles, Victoria. “Even Baz Lurhman didn't get permission to shoot Moulin Rouge inside the cathedral. I waited four months to get the permission and promised I wouldn't compromise on the sanctity of the cathedral. And the 12 Apostles added to the film,” he revels.

There were disappointments too. The unit was all set to shoot the Indian version of Jailhouse Rock and pay tribute to Elvis Presley. The contract arrived from the US with several restrictions. “The rules forbid us from using any of the lyrics, steps, sets, photos or props of Elvis. We were shattered. First, we had modified the steps since Kajol was pregnant. And then these rules. At one stage, we thought of scrapping the song,” confesses Siddharth. In the end, Dil Kholke Let's Rock did happen.

Looking back, Siddharth says, “A lot of people have appreciated the song. I hope the hard work that went into the film pays off.”

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 9:12:43 PM |

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