Interview : Kunal Deshmukh

Kunal DeshmukhWith a recent shift in release date for JANNAT from 2nd to the 16th of May, we met up with debut director Kunal Deshmukh for a one on one chat in his editing studio to talk about the movie, the music, the controversies and more:

Why has JANNAT?s release date been moved?
There were two more movies releasing on May 2nd, and the Bhatts, from past experience with movies like AWARAPAN, believed that it would be better for JANNAT to be released later rather than in direct competition. So we just delayed the release by two weeks. Now its releasing on the 16th of May instead.

Tell us a little about the movie?
JANNAT is a love story, with the world of cricket and match-fixing, the real underbelly of cricket, as its backdrop. Arjun (Emraan Hashmi) is a reckless young man with an obsession for making money. A chance meeting with a Zoya (Sonal Chauhan) at a mall gives him the reasons he was looking for to move out his ordinary life. He steps up from playing small time card games to becoming a big time bookie. The rest?you have to watch!

There are news reports that say JANNAT is based one the Bob Woolmer episode, is that true?
The story as I said before is a love story, and all characters are fictitious. We did use an angle similar to the Woolmer episode, but its not like we are hypothesizing and saying that?s what happened with Woolmer. The Bob Woolmer story like many others from our research has provided inspiration to the script writing.

In India cricketers are considered to be like Gods, do you feel you may be courting controversy by delivering a film that shows cricketers in such a negative light?
Firstly, it?s a fictitious film, a story. And in that vein, if you can tell a story about a dirty cop, or a dirty politician, then why not about a dirty cricketer?

We all remember a time in cricket when allegations of matches being fixed were rampant. But in today?s scenario where people are earning in crores, do you think a movie about fixing is relevant?
Well, betting on cricket is a huge thing in India. Do you know that India is the only country where people actually bet on each ball? The variety and detail of bets is legend. I believe when the stakes are so high, there will always be someone tempted to try and influence the outcome. Whether he succeeds or not is a different story?

Did you meet any bookies for this movie?

Yes we met several, in many shady places of the city (laughs). It was enlightening and we got many useful nuances for Arjun?s character from these, language, behaviour etc. Infact we even had a bookie come and spend a day at the set.

What about cricketers or officials from the cricket boards?
Oh we tried quite hard to meet them, but once they knew what our movie was about, they didn?t really want to meet us!

How does it feel being a debut director?
At this point, mostly nervous I think! I?ve been living and breathing the film for almost a year now, if you look at it from the point we came up with the idea, began scripting and so on. So its very much a part of me. All of us at Vishesh think it?s a good film and I?m looking forward to seeing how audiences receive it.

And you?re working with Emraan, who?s got some 17 movies under his belt and newcomer Sonal, how does it feel directing two actors with such different experience?
With an actor as experienced as Emraan, it?s easier to get results you want, and I think this is one of Emraan?s finest performances to date. Sonal has done a great job for a debuting actor. Her character is not a straight black and white one, it has shades of grey, and I think she?s one a great job.

Thanks Kunal, all the best for JANNAT, we hope this match is fixed in your favour.

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