Director Q on what came after SAIFF 2010

Q2 Director Q on what came after SAIFF 2010

I had a chance to chat briefly with director Q, whose film eye-opening film Gandu was screened at SAIFF 2010.  He’s in NYC and attending this year’s SAIFF, to which he’s brought his film Tasher Desh.

What can we expect from you this time around at SAIFF 2013?

Well, a surprise…

How has it been with Gandu since you were here with it at SAIFF three years ago?  I see it’s available for sale on Amazon…

It was great because this (SAIFF 2010) started it off and the film went to Berlin after this, which is kind of rare, in terms of being picked up for Berlin, they usually need world premieres.
After that Gandu has been to over 70 festivals so we’ve done quite a bit of work since then and two more films have happened.  So it’s been quite busy.

And it screened in India, which really surprised me…

No, it didn’t.

Wasn’t it shown at one of the festivals?

No, no, it’s still banned.  Only one time, the Bombay festival tried to screen the film, the cops came and shut it down.  Yeah, it’s still underground.

Note:  Q’s Tasher Desh screens tonight at SAIFF 2013 and the director Q will be present for a Q&A afterward.

Vijay Varma talking about Monsoon Shootout

NawazVijayAmit2 1024x893 Vijay Varma talking about Monsoon Shootout

Actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Vijay Varma with director Amit Kumar discussing their work on Monsoon Shootout, the opening night film of SAIFF 2013

While in New York to attend the screening of Monsoon Shootout at SAIFF 2013, here’s what Vijay Varma had to say about working on the film- where he plays a young and idealistic police officer new to the job – and what he has coming up next.

What’s one memory from making Monsoon Shootout that comes to mind when you think back on it?

It was a test of memory.

In what way?

There are multiple scenarios that I am witnessing in the film and in each scenario different things happen and there’s slight differences in the way that I’m behaving and I have to remember on which day I’m shooting what and what has happened in the past and what will happen in the future.

It was your first time working with Amit Kumar, what was he like as a director?

I think I’ve found a term for him.  We’ve all heard of method actors, but he’s a method director.

How so?

If there’s a scene in which I’m supposed to be standing and looking at someone and it’s a very close up shot, it’s right there, but he’ll still want my ID to be in my pocket, my gun to be in my back, he would want that on me, to be in  that moment, fully ready.

Monsoon resized 3 Vijay Varma talking about Monsoon Shootout

What have you been doing since Monsoon Shootout and going to Cannes?

I’ve been shooting for a film in India.  It’s a comedy, more of a Bollywood kind of musical.  It’s not been released yet, I think it’s releasing in February.

And what’s the name of it?

It’s called Gang of Ghosts.

And who else is in the film?

There are many, many good actors – there’s Anupam Kher, Saurabh Shukla, Mahie Gill, Sharman Joshi.

How long are you in New York?

I’m here ‘til the 9th, to see some friends.  It’s my first time here, that’s why I want to stay longer.

Manish Acharya interview

Manish as director 2 Manish Acharya interview

In the past three years, on December 4th, the day when director, writer and actor Manish Acharya died in a horse-riding accident outside of Bombay, I always remember him and his wonderful debut film Loins of Punjab Presents, and think what a shame it is that he’s gone so soon.  Manish was only 40 and had received much critical acclaim for Loins.  I think he had a long and promising career ahead of him, and I was so looking forward to decades of his creations to come.  Here’s a really lovely tribute that AVS aired back in December 2010 right after his passing.

Today I pulled out one of the audio files from an interview we did in September 2008, just a little while after I’d seen and loved Loins, wherein I got to ask him about some one the more mundane aspects of filmmaking as well as the more interesting ones, all of which he very gracefully and enthusiastically discussed.  It was one of those interviews you really enjoy doing, where you end up talking movies part of the time, and not just the interview subject’s own.  If you want to read the first part of the interview it’s here, though now I cringe at some of my questions five years ago, especially around budgets and the like, and in my head I hear the Dowager Countess saying “Oh, good. Let’s talk about money” as she opens her napkin with scorn for the speaker…

And here is the second part of that conversation:

So tell me about the making of Loins of Punjab Presents, how did it come about, how long to shoot and so on?

In October of 2003, is when we had….. we had a pretty decent draft of the script in six months.  And then my mother passed away and I completely took a break from all of this.

It’s the worst thing that can happen to you and I just wanted to be with my wife, my kids, my Dad – we actually came to America for a couple of months to kind of make sense of life and, not that I managed to make sense of life, I still can tear up at the most inopportune moment because something reminds me of her, but then finally I needed to get back to work.

So a few months after that is when I said “Ok, so let me raise financing for the film” and “Let me do some other drafts.”  By that time, the co-writer was around but he was really busy with other projects and he also was wondering if this film was going to go anywhere, how much time to spend on it, that kind of thing, so I basically was on my own as I wrote the last couple of drafts.  That must have been, hmm, let’s see, the end of 2004, and we shot in 2005 and early 2006.

We finished shooting in 2006 and we had the picture locked by about July/August 2006.  And then I started to wait for no apparent reason.  Roger Savage, this Oscar-nominated sound mixer, who’s done all of Zhang Zimou’s films, and I looked at the sound mixers of India and I thought “You know?  I just don’t think they’re gonna get it.”  They haven’t worked with a quiet film enough for them to understand room tones, and to me it was so essential that the sound sounded like America, that it didn’t sound like someone’s idea of America – like, what does a hotel room sound like in the US? When nothing’s going on, what kind of sounds do you hear in the background?  So Roger liked the movie, he wanted to do the sound thing, but the only time he was free was after he finished Curse of the Golden Flower, which he was working on.  So I decided to wait for him.  I’m really glad I did, because I would like him to mix all my movies, it was a great time, I went to Australia, he did it there, it was really amazing.  So then we got done, then we started applying to festivals, the movie showed in April 2007, first time at a festival, it released in India in September 2007, and now, releasing here.

Actually the last couple of years could have been compressed, and probably most producers would have compressed it into a three-month time frame, but I didn’t, partly because I was also writing and my financers weren’t really on my head about “Let’s get a return, let’s get a return!”  They just said “Listen, do what you think is right.  We trust you.”  And I’m very happy.  I told them “Don’t release it through an Indian distributor here because they’ll just put it in the Indian theaters, which is fine, our core audience will come, but I really think this is a movie that non-Indians can also relate to.  At least let’s give it a chance.  The odds of a non-desi person coming to North Bergen to a film is not that likely, while going to the Quad is more likely.”

And then of course we went to a bunch of festivals, won some awards, so that took its own sweet time, so now I’m quite ready at the end of this to start my next film.  Suddenly I look back and I think “Hey I need to get off Loins!”

What was your budget?

Actually, that’s the one thing my financers have asked me not to talk about.  The reason for them – which I agree with – is people keep categorizing the film based on that “Is this good for that amount of money?  Is it bad?”  They said “If they like it, they like it.”  They don’t want to get into that whole game.  But they’re happy with the results in terms of what’s happening.

But you yourself, from everything I’ve read, I think you did quite well in the tech sector….

Yes, I was one of the investors as well…

Would it be correct to say that you haven’t exactly had to go through the starving artist phase maybe that somebody who came to this business earlier would have?

That’s completely correct.  I didn’t go through the starving artist phase at all however I don’t know if that’s necessarily a positive or a negative, to be honest with you, because, you know, for some people it may be a positive.  I think that it’s positive in the sense that it gives you certain life experiences that you can tap into, I think it’s negative in the sense that it distracts you from the task at hand, which is creating.  So, I wasn’t starving but at the same time I don’t think the movie was just so much easier to make because of that.  The lesson I learned was that the toughest part of the process actually starts after your film is done, after you think you’re done and your first print is out, that’s when it gets tough for an indie film.

Who signed on first in terms of the actors?

I’d written the role for Ajay (Naidu), because I’d worked with him on my short films, so he was one of the first guys I contacted.  I think we’d already cast Bokade, then we talked to Ayesha (Dharker), and Ayesha recommended Shabana.  I’d been thinking about some other women for Mrs. Kapoor, but I wasn’t happy and then when she said Shabana, I said “Oh my God, she’d be so perfect, but she’d never agree to do it.”  Because it was also a kind of casting against type, and she read the script and said she’d love to do it.  Hers was the easiest casting.  From the time she read the script to the time she was on was, like, three days.

And how do you get hold of Shabana Azmi?  Do you call someone you know who also knows her…

I just got her number and she’s one of the few people in India who actually pick up her own phone.

For everybody else there’s always some assistant.  In Bombay there’s always this thing of someone’s either sleeping or having a bath.  I remember I joked about this once, I said “India must have the most cleanest and well rested actors in the world, with how much they sleep and how much they bathe.”

So you spoke to Shabana and in three days she was onboard….

Yeah, that bigger problem in terms of time and casting was very rarely the person waiting to give us an answer, it was always us wondering whether we should cast the person or not.  We were quite fortunate in that respect.  The approach we had, we didn’t have the usual suspects in terms of the crew, I really spent some time figuring out who are the crew members I want on this film, so they were all people who had both worked in India and worked overseas, and also the script had a certain kind of humor in it so I think any actor saw that the way we did the audition process was very kind of formal and efficient, we never wasted time, we always communicated to them where they were in the process.  Otherwise actors are so used to not hearing, they don’t hear for so long and they know they’re not cast, but we always called them up the next day and said “This happened, we’re looking at two or three people, you’re in the running” and a lot of people told me it was those little things that made them say “I want to work on this film.”

In fact Darshan Jariwala, who later played Sanjeev Patel, I initially cast him as Sanya’s father, and he had two scenes, which was later cut from the film, there was a monologue in the beginning and the parents at the contest at the hotel, but then he decided – he was doing Gandhi My Father and a bunch of other things as well – he decided to do it because he said “After meeting you for half an hour, I wan’t to work with you.”  Later, as we went further into the process, I realized that I’d miscast the Patels, and the day before we shot I recast all the Patel men which totally sent tremors through my crew and screaming and yelling from some people like “Oh my God, you’re sinking the movie!” and I said “No, if I leave these four people in these roles…,” then I said ”I have to do it.  We just have to do it.”  The reason I thought that was we had a reading, the full cast reading, two days before the first day of shoot, and I realized that I’d made a mistake.  Somehow the Patels weren’t jelling, and they were being played stereotypically and not with the empathy that I felt was in the characters and in the writing, and we went on and we recast.  So I grabbed Darshan from within the cast already because it’ll be easy to cast Sanya’s father, which it was, and then we went and got the other guys.  I cancelled all my meetings and started auditioning the day before shoot for those three roles.

The costume designed was saying “We’ve done all the stuff, we’ve got measurements!” and I said “Just chill, we’ve got to do it” and the four guys we kind of took out of those roles, we gave one a role somewhere else in the film, and two of the others were like “Look, whatever happened so far, we’d love to work together in the future,” and the fourth guy was totally pissed off, I don’t blame him.  It’s not his fault, it was my mistake, I should have seen it earlier.

How difficult was it to get Shaan to sign on for the film?

So Shaan was pretty easy.  We needed someone and Shabana said “Do you want me to call up Shaan?” and she did, he wanted to know how long, and we said if he could come for two days, he said “Fine” and that was it.

Where did you film the scenes in the hotel?

On the set, because we looked at what we wanted to do in a hotel and just realized that the flexibility I wanted in terms of moving the camera or having the amount of time to do more takes if I needed it, I just wouldn’t get in a real hotel, especially no one’s gonna take their lobby and give it to us, we had to construct it.

So that was all done over in India?

Yeah, we looked at it and realized it was cheaper to do it in India.  In hindsight I don’t know if I would have still done that, getting a set like that built in India and making it US-like … what was really rewarding was I went to a really early screening and someone in the audience said “I’ve been to that hotel in New Jersey!” and I thought “Oh my God, we did it!  We pulled it off!”

And so I’m assuming then that the auditorium scene too was filmed in India?

That was filmed in India for a simple reason: to get a thousand Indian extras outside of India would not have been possible.  They just wouldn’t come, or they’d come for a lark, show up and say “Oh, a shoot, a shoot!” and an hour later be like “This is really boring.”  And the ones who are professional extras, cost five times what you would pay in India, so when you have a thousand of them, and you have to feed a thousand of them and clothe a thousand of them, it really becomes expensive.  Very early we decided that the auditorium scene would have to be shot in India.

To close, here’s one of the happiest things to come out of this film, as far as I’m concerned: the Dhol Beat song composed by Samrat Chakrabarti and sung by he and Ajay Naidu.  The video was directed by Nina Paley and Manish Acharya.

Arjun Mathur talking about Bombay Movie, Fireflies and more

ElsaArjun Arjun Mathur talking about Bombay Movie, Fireflies and more

Alex Eaton & Arjun Mathur

Tell me about Bombay Movie

AM:  There’s a film I did called Barah Anna, and Alex (Eaton) was, well, I thought she was just shooting the making of, and three years later I learned that she’s made a documentary film on it.  I’m so excited.  It gives an insight into the process that goes into making independent film in India, which is not easy at all.  So I’m excited to see how she’s captured it.  Barah Anna is a special film for me, it’s one of the films that I’ve done that’s closest to my heart, so I’m happy for this film.

And talk a little bit about the other film you’re connected to at NYIFF this year, which is Fireflies

AM: Fireflies has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  In fact, when Fireflies first came my way, I was going through a very rough emotional, personal patch, and I was in no shape to work at the time.  I told Sabal that in our first meeting, and I think that’s exactly why he cast me.  And through the film, I wasn’t acting, every day on set I was going through a catharsis honestly, and I think it shows… let’s see what everyone else thinks.

You’ve done some work behind the camera as well…Bunty aur Babli, Rang De Basanti

AM: I have yeah….. I was doing continuity on Bunty aur Babli….in fact I’ll share something with you…. Dev Makhija whose the director of Oonga was my First AD on that film.

What’s coming up next for you?

AM: Other than Fireflies, I have three other films that are ready.  Two of them are independents, so we’ll have to see what festivals they go to and when they release in India.  One of them, the more commercial, is called Ankur Arora Murder Case.  That releases on June 14th, and it’s produced by Vikram Bhatt, it has me, KayKay Menon.  It’s got strong performers, good story, it should be nice.

And the other two?

AM: One is called Couching Tiger Mannu.  It’s about a young Delhi boy who discovers couch-surfing, then his only aim in life is to get some white women to come and live in his house.  And then there’s a film tentatively called Coffee Bloom, again a fantastic relationship drama, beautiful script, so I’m excited.

And any theater at the moment?

AM: No, no theater, it takes a lot of time and commitment and doesn’t pay enough.  I would love to come and do some theater here maybe. I’d love to do a Broadway musical, I’m waving my arms and legs for it.

Monsoon Wedding is coming to Broadway….

AM:  Apparently.  Mira gave me my break actually in Migration, so I’ve asked her already “When that comes you have to let me audition.”

Note: Bombay Movie screened at NYIFF on May 1st and Fireflies on May 2nd.

Riz Ahmed: I get pulled aside every time I come here

RizAhmed2 Riz Ahmed: I get pulled aside every time I come here

As part of the press junket for The Reluctant Fundamentalist, a group of seven of us had a roundtable interview with Riz Ahmed (who plays Changez Khan) and Kate Hudson (who plays his girlfriend, Erica).

On a purely gossipy notes, one could not help but notice that Ms. Hudson was wearing this massive emerald-cut rock.

Riz, did I read correctly somewhere that you were detained for several hours at an airport in the UK when you returned from the Berlin Film Festival a couple of years ago?

RA: I was, yes, you did read that correctly.

Then let me ask you, did you have any concerns coming to the US, and have you had any issues here?

RA:  Concerns… I get pulled aside for three and a half hours every time I come here.  Not so much the last 3 or 4 times since I got a work visa, but it’s funny, this film nearly fell apart because my US visa was delayed indefinitely.   There’s something called sec 221.G which is a blanket security measure American authorities impose on most Muslim males ages 18-50.  They check your name against an international database of suspected or known terrorists and associates, and it’s a process that can take up to nine months and we needed to start shooting in a month.  So, yeah, it’s something that’s a reality and it’s sad and in my opinion it’s a slightly ham-fisted and counterproductive way of leading an intelligence operation, or managing your borders.

KateHudson2 Riz Ahmed: I get pulled aside every time I come here

Kate, you said that taking on this role was a no-brainer, could you tell us why?

KH: When I met with Mira I was eight months pregnant  and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do the movie because of that, but Mira somehow didn’t know and I walked in and was so excited to talk about the movie and she says “Wow, you’re so pregnant!”  And  I said “I thought you knew!  I just wanted to talk to you, it’s such an interesting script!”

We talked, we fell in love with each other, she just felt very familial to me.  I don’t if it’s my mother’s going to India since the ‘70s, I’m just surrounded by my mother’s Indian friends, I just felt like it was meeting a soulmate and I just felt like if it wasn’t this, whatever she would ever want me to do, I would be there to do with her.  Fortunately, the movie pushed and I was able to do it.

I had just had Bing, I showed up and it was more than just Mira, it’s when I read it I had to read it two times in a row because there was just so much material and it was so rich in its themes.  I really wanted to know how Mira was going to tackle it.  It felt like a really brave project.  When I heard her talk about using these themes and this political thriller backdrop as a way to tell a story about a young man’s journey in finding himself and human connection and the human spirit and how do you find it and get to that place in your life and being authentic with yourself, and I thought only Mira could tell this story.  I’m happy I was able to be a part of it.

What’s she like as a director?

KH: Wonderful, nurturing.  Riz likes to say “holistic”.  She knows the story she wants to tell and I like talking about Mira and the sense of she’s very sensual in how she brings people together and how she gets the creative juice out of whether it be your DP or her actors.  When she knows she has to say something to tell her story, she is adamant about getting what she wants and I think within that, she creates that world where everybody wants to deliver for her.  And she’s very passionate, on a daily, hourly, minutes, seconds basis as you can tell if you’ve already spoken to her just now.  It’s infectious and you can’t help but go there with her.

For both of you, what stayed with you after shooting the movie was over?

RA: Wow, I mean, there’s a lot that stayed with me.  Going to Istanbul was amazing.  I’d never been, always wanted to go, and a lot of the film is about trying to get beyond the labels or divisions that we try and put up between people and even different sides of ourselves, and Istanbul is a city that kind of evaporates lots of dichotomies, East and West, secular – religious, it’s a special place.  Going there and visiting ancient Roman temples that were turned into grand Byzantine churches and then turned into huge mosques, in the same building.  That says something, it has an important energy.  So ending this film’s shoot in that city was amazing – it felt really fitting.

KH: For me, it was how exhausted I was by the end of it, emotionally & physically…breastfeeding and handing Bing to Riz, ….. It was funny, I was so into it when I was there I didn’t realize how much I was working.

RA: It was kind of amazing, to be honest.  I found it really impressive, you were hardly sleeping, breast-feeding, hand over the baby, “Action!”, burst into tears – you were amazing!  (laughs)   Like…what the hell – she’s a machine!

KH: When I got home I did say only Mira could – if I had another child – she’s probably the only one to convince me to do that again, because I was tired and it wasn’t even that long of a shoot.  But I think it worked because I really was emotional.  I had no moment where I had to take time to get there.  Between the material I was working with and how closely connected I felt to Erica, and her guilt and her trauma, and the exhaustion that I was feeling somehow connected and made for a good harmonious experience for me to get it out.

Riz, you guys have really good chemistry together.  What really struck me was the theme of an inter-racial relationship and how the challenges that there are already in one, then set against the backdrop of 9/11.  Could you talk about that and how you portrayed the relationship in the film?

RA: Well, I think the important thing for those characters is they don’t go into it, or at least they don’t go into it consciously thinking of each other as a collection of labels.  He doesn’t think “Oh, Upper East Side, comes from money…” and she doesn’t think “Pakistani, Muslim…”  I think what emerges down the line is they start realizing maybe there is a hint of exoticism in the attraction and the extent to which that is healthy – just to want to investigate that which is previously unknown to you – and the extent to which is kind of objectifying and turning someone into this kind of fashion accessory or something.  I think there is that tension in this relationship, but I don’t think it’s common to all interracial relationships.  I think the kind of prevalence and rise of interracial relationships is one of the beaut things about modern cosmopolitan societies and there are many that are totally healthy and just grow and blossom.

Riz, can you talk a bit about the audition process – is that right that you were asked to come to Mira while you were in the recording studio?

RA:  I was on my way to the shoot the album cover for MICroscope, my debut album, and at that point I’d already been turned down like, four times, because I kept sending in tapes and Mira just didn’t vibe with them.  My agent said “Look, Mira Nair’s in London, go and see her.” And I said ”I’m done with that.  There’s no point.”  But I went and met her and it’s so different when you’re in the room.  We just clicked and it just kinda’ went from there very naturally.”

Riz, any Hindi movies in your future?

RA:   I want to work with this new wave of Indian filmmakers and Pakistani filmmakers, not quite Bollywood.  I don’t have the dance moves for Bollywood.

Note: After its initial release last Friday in Manhattan and Los Angeles, today The Reluctant Fundamentalist opens across the US in these cinemas:

Camera 3 – San Jose CA
Cinema 100 – White Plains NY
Clairidge – Montclair NJ
Manhasset Cinemas – Manhasset NY
South Coast Village – Costa Mesa CA
Rancho Niguel – Laguna Niguel CA
Garden Cinemas – Norwalk CT
Montgomery Cinema – Rocky Hill NJ
Playhouse – Pasadena CA
Town Center – Encino CA
Bethesda Row – Bethesda MD
Century Centre – Chicago IL
Embarcadero – San Francisco CA
Kendall Square – Cambridge MA
Mayan – Denver CO
Frontenac – St. Louis MO
River Oaks – Houston TX
Ritz 5 – Philadelphia PA
Shattuck – Berkeley CA
Magnolia – Dallas TX
Seven Gables – Seattle WA
Smith Rafael Film Center – San Rafael CA
Uptown – Minneapolis MN
Kew Gardens – Kew Gardens NY
Malverne – Malverne NY

Reema Kagti interview

Reema%20Kagti%20and%20Aamir%20Khan%202 Reema Kagti interview

Reema Kagti caught a lot of people’s attention with the first film she wrote and directed, the quirky, fun Honeymoon Travels Private Ltd. in 2007.  She also co-wrote Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara with friend and collaborator Zoya Akhtar.  (And if you look carefully, you can see her appear very briefly in the audience at one of the band’s concerts in Farhan Akhtar’s Rock On!)  Here, she discusses her much-awaited return to directing with the suspense thriller Talaash.

Maria: What have you been doing in the past five years since Honeymoon Travels Private Ltd?

Reema Kagti: Primarily I’ve been trying to get films off the ground for me to direct.  Such a long time has not been out of choice.  I was focusing on my writing and developing a couple of scripts.  I wrote ZNMD with Zoya (Akhtar).  So it’s been a lot of writing and trying to get films to direct.

Approximately how long did it take to complete the script of Talaash?

I think over three months.  Zoya and I had written the story years ago actually.  It was our first attempt at co-writing ever.  So we had written the story about eight or nine years ago and I think at that point we were writing and Farhan (Akhtar) came into the room and he heard the story and said “I like it and I think Excel (Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.) should buy it.”

So we sold it to them and we went on a holiday, spent the money and came back and felt really foolish for selling the script because we both felt it was a really, really nice story and we should have kept it for one of us to direct.  So we tried to get Farhan to give us the story back.  They said we must be professional, since we sold it, that was that.

And we moved on.  Zoya did Luck By Chance, I did Honeymoon.  Post-Honeymoon I was talking to Farhan and Ritesh (Sidhwani) about what I wanted to do next I brought up this story and I said “Since no one’s really done anything with it, I would like to develop the screenplay with Zoya and direct it for Excel.” And within three months we had hashed it out.

How do you and Zoya write together?  How does that work exactly?

The thing is we’ve kind of arrived at this process, at a very organic process.  What we kind of do is, right from the germ of the idea we kind of bounce it off each other, so whomever’s idea it is, it becomes the other person’s, because the other one is talking so much about it.  Once that happens, we research it, we talk about it a lot and then we start putting one-liners down and we don’t get on to a screenplay until we’ve hashed this one-liner through all the way to the last scene.  Then we tackle the screenplay.

There are no rules, at any given point, anyone can just do what they like, but normally what we do is … I think we’ve complementary qualities as writers.  I find it easier to look at the big picture and start writing a screenplay and moving on ahead, and I think Zoya is really good at detailing things – characters, dialogues, situations.  She’s really good at honing scenes, so she kind of writes over me.  Everybody’s writing over each other.  It’s democratic.  And there’s a lot of fighting and a lot of arguments (laughs).

Talaash is much darker than Honeymoon Travels… to what do you attribute that?  Is it because you are older yourself?

Not really.  Honestly, the first movie I ever tried to do was a script which I still haven’t been able to make was really much darker than Talaash.  I don’t think age has anything to do with it.  It was just following this story that led me to this dark suspense drama.  It wasn’t like I was consciously heading that way.

I think we’re very intuitive both of us as writers, we like to work a bit spontaneously and we let the idea kind of lead us as opposed to us leading the idea.  So I wasn’t consciously seeking to arrive here, which is where the idea led me.

How would you describe that very basic germ of the idea that grew into Talaash?

To protect the suspense and the surprise of the film I wouldn’t like to tell you, but it just came from a passing remark.

Those underwater scenes look like they must have been something to orchestrate.  Did Aamir have any qualms about being in the water so much?

Aamir was really great.  Initially when he took on the film, he’s not a swimmer.  For the underwater sequences, it was more about having diving and breathing equipment down there with him, but he needed to be comfortable in water.  There are certain sequences where he needs to swim, so he had taught himself to swim for the part, so had Rani.  Kareena was a natural swimmer, she knew how to swim from before.

Shooting underwater is extremely difficult and tedious.  I had hoped to shoot both sequences in an underwater stage we had set up a couple of hours out of Mumbai at a diving academy.  We shot the first sequence and then we had some problems with the filtration unit.  The water just wasn’t as clear as we needed it to be, there were visibility problems.  I felt I shouldn’t shoot and I spoke to all three producers, who were all supportive and said “We shouldn’t attempt something you aren’t feeling comfortable about.  Let’s wrap and we’ll set it up where you do feel confident about it.”  And that happened to be nowhere other than Pinewood (Studios), which was fantastic for all of us because I think it’s quite an institution in film-making.

So it was great to go and shoot on the underwater stage there, and get the scene to what I wanted it to be.

In the second half of this interview, Reema talks more about Talaash and discusses how it was to work with Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherjee and Kareena Kapoor.