Filmmaker Mohit Suri has come a long way! Though he churned out back-to-back sleeper hits, it is only his musical extravaganza AASHIQUI 2 which brought him into limelight. Now that he is gearing up for his next EK VILLAIN, starring Shraddha Kapoor, Sidharth Malhotra and Riteish Deshmukh, all eyes are set on his film. While Mohit is chilled out about it. As we caught up with the director he spoke in length about life post AASHIQUI 2 and how he discovered himself while making the film, his first venture (EK VILLAIN ) outside Bhatt camp, casting Riteish in a negative avatar, making Shraddha croon for the first time and much more. Here are the excerpts:
Do you think AASHIQUI 2 has changed the entire dynamics and put you into a league different altogether?
Well definitely, but the change happened even before AASHIQUI 2 released. Post its success, I was put on to a different scale and everyone started seeing me like that. But I wrote EK VILLAIN before AASHIQUI 2 happened. Today, EK VILLAIN has garnered enough buzz which I have never seen even for my past films. But besides the AASHIQUI 2 hangover, the credit also goes for what EK VILLAIN looks like. I guess that chain started while I was making AASHIQUI 2, when I touched an emotional side of mine, which I was not embracing it earlier. I was trying to bank on the skills by only taking good looking shots, designing stylish stuff, etc. But it was during the making of AASHIQUI 2, I realized that there was a personal connection which I was making with the people.
So you mean to say the real filmmaker is coming out now?
I guess so. It took me 4-5 films to arrive at this position. I think my past films were my net practice. It was all about my growth and it was evident little bit in all my films. But I was shy in embracing it somewhere. I always had sleeper hits but now the game has changed. EK VILLAIN doesn't boast of biggest star cast as such but it has its individual mark.
But do you agree that post the success of AASHIQUI 2, there are lot of expectations from you and your film EK VILLAIN?
When I was making AASHIQUI 2 people were telling me what if you didn't get the music right because the first AASHIQUI was a rage. It was the second biggest music in the world. It actually sold more than Michael Jackson cassettes at one point of time. So that was a pressure in itself. Pressure is a point of this industry that you can't really succumb. But I perform better under pressure. Secondly, EK VILLAIN is looking interesting today not because it's AASHIQUI 3, but it has got a newer star cast, it has a popular face like Shraddha Kapoor, it's a completely different genre film. People have been more critical about the trailer. They are not going gaga over it because I am the director of AASHIQUI 2 but they like it because the trailer looks interesting. The comparisons will always come but those are the pressures you have to let go off.
With what conviction you opted for Riteish Deshmukh as a villain, despite the fact he is known for comedies?
I actually never cast any actor for what they are known for or what they do. More than me casting them both Riteish and Sidharth are two actors who casted me. When Sidharth heard about the role through his friend, he said I want to be a part of this film. Probably, somewhere he knew what was lying there for him. Also, he knew I would be that person who would bring the dark side of him out well. Similarly, with Riteish, when he met me, he was telling me about a certain kind of character he would like to play. And I said that I have got a script like this. I think they believed in me more than anything else. So it was not that I had to convince them to play the role. But I believe Riteish is making the boldest career move with it.
Did you have slightest of doubt while experimenting with Riteish?
I don't doubt my actors. If I doubted anyone, that would be me. I always assume the responsibility.
Tell us about your bonding with Shraddha. After AASHIQUI 2, she yet again became a part of your film EK VILLAIN
I don't cast any actor for the sake of friendship or anything.
While you retained Shraddha, what about Aditya Roy Kapur?Didn't you feel the need to repeat them since they make a good pair on-screen?
It's a different film and Sidharth was more apt for this part which I was looking for. When I was making AASHIQUI 2, many people came to me suggesting about different actors, but I always knew Aditya was the right choice.
…But audience root for Bollywood jodis happening every now and then
I never cast actors because people like any particular pair or there is any public perception. Moreover, I don't think now-a-days repeated jodis work. Tell me which repeated jodi has worked? Star couple never clicks well with the audience on-screen. Their first film does well but the subsequent projects fail to make any mark. I don't know how to make jodis. I am not actually good at it. A film should only be made for the story that it's supposed to be and then you have to cast correctly.
Has marriage changed the way you choose your projects and look at films now?
It changed the way I look at my work but not the films I do. I don't know but my wife is not much of a film buff. Udita doesn't watch too many films. She doesn't care and she's not even a fan of me or my work. She didn't read into my script or anything like that. But that doesn't affect. She balances me as a person. I am a very disorganized person. She somehow balances out for me and that's how she has complemented to my success. But she loved AASHIQUI 2 and wanted to keep a trial for her. She is very proud of me.
This is the first time you have stepped out of Bhatt camp. Did you miss the team while working on this film? How was it stepping out of the comfort zone?
I just missed my aunt from the production team and obviously Mahesh & Mukesh Bhatt sahab. The rest of the team including the cameraman, ADs, the art director was with me.
The death of creativity is when you stay in comfort zone. If you are comfortable then you are just duplicating. Creativity is when you have something new to do. Obviously by adding one more new person, there is a new layer added. Even with Ekta (Kapoor) and Karan (Johar), I was working more like an independent filmmaker. I enjoyed this space also. When I made her hear about the idea, she was all excited about it. I guess we are all the same people who came together because of the script. There was no other thought or hidden agenda besides this.
Of late we have seen filmmakers collaborating together for a single project (e.g. EK VILLAIN). Earlier that wasn't the case. Filmmakers never mingled and loved to be in their own space. Is the industry at an uniting stage?
I have never really thought about it but it's really a nice thing. I think we are all chasing scripts more than anything else. It's good to see collaborations happening. I think it's a very good phase of our industry. We saw that happening in Hollywood earlier and now it's our turn.
We heard you refrained Shraddha from singing in AASHIQUI 2, however you let her croon for EK VILLAIN?
I didn't think Shraddha was a singer. I didn't take her seriously. I just thought she was this enthusiast new comer who wants to sing during AASHIQUI 2. While shooting for EK VILLAIN, I saw her lip-synching the song, I heard her voice and that's when I thought she could really sing. It's not that I wanted her to sing. I thought she could understand the film better than anybody else because she has lived through the entire film. So rather than getting any singer I got her to sing it because I knew she could get the emotions of the film correctly.
How much is music essential for the film's success?
I am the wrong person to ask this question to. Where would I be if I didn't have music in my films? The stars of my films have never been the actors. The music directors whom I work with or the singers have been the stars of my films. If Atif Aslam's 'Woh Lamhe' wouldn't have been there, my career would have never kickstart. If Raj sahib wouldn't have given me 'Jiya Dhadak Dhadak', if Mithoon would not have given me 'Tum Hi Ho' imagine where would I be? I have never worked with big stars. I have worked with only music directors and singers. I give them all the credit of my success.
(By Rachana Sheth)