Milap Zaveri: Used to torture Sunny Leone everyday on MASTIZAADE sets
After writing for various movies like MASTI, EK VILLAIN, MAIN TERA HERO, SHOOTOUT AT WADALA and even the TV show 24, Milap Zaveri has opted to turn a director with MASTIZAADE. In an interview with us, Milap told us about his journey and many other things.
Here are some excerpts:
How did you come up with the concept of MASTIZAADE?
This genre is something I’ve written before with MASTI and GRAND MASTI. I guess humour comes to me easily and I had a great partner in Mushtaq (Sheikh) - he’s a devil, he has written super hits like OM SHANTI OM and two books on Shah Rukh sir. When we got together, we had to control each other because of the way the ideas kept flowing. So we just wanted to have fun. What happens is that adult comedies aren’t critically acclaimed usually, but audiences love them and go berserk as MASTI and GRAND MASTI have proven. The thought was let’s have fun; there should be a joke a minute, literally. The only objective of this film is to make people laugh, not educate or offend. If people come out laughing and say they’ve forgotten their problem during the two hour span, then I would say I wanted to achieve I have achieved.
How has the whole MASTIZAADE experience been?
Fabulous, crazy and it’s been full of masti right from the time we started with the project. Rangita (our producer) approached me a couple weeks after GRAND MASTI released, when she met me and told me to direct a film. She told me she want something in that zone. So I thought a lot about it and said why not? As a writer, it’s something I’ve done successfully so as a director, why not attempt the same genre which is so successful and hasn’t been explored enough? It started from there and Mushtaq Sheikh and I wrote the script; Mushtaq wrote the screenplay and I wrote the dialogues. PNC (Pritesh Nandu Communications) loved it and Rangita had this brainwave of approaching Sunny Leone. I wasn’t sure if Sunny would say yes for something like this, but we went and met her husband Daniel (Weber) first and within 5 minutes he was sold on the idea. Normally, they have a screening procedure – where Daniel meets first and then if he likes and thinks the people are legit, then he organizes a meeting, a few days later, with Sunny. When he heard the idea, he immediately called Sunny and told her I’m bringing them up (they met him at the café under her house). He told Sunny that the script is mind-blowing and she has to hear it right now. We then narrated the script to Sunny and she loved it. Just like that, Sunny was on and then one by one the whole cast joined. It’s been a mad ride and as you all must have seen the promo and songs, we had a great time making this film!
How was it working with Sunny Leone?
Mind-blowing. Before I started, some people told me she’s difficult. I am telling you- it has been a dream. She has never said no to me. I never deviated from what I wrote and narrated to her. She knew exactly what she had to do in the film; everything was there in black and white on the script. There was no point where suddenly I sprung the surprise on her saying now I want you to do this. Because she knew what she had to do, she was comfortable with whatever she had to. On the sets, we had this atmosphere of madness where her point was that you’re not embarrassed by what you’re asking me to do or have writer or directed so why should I have an issue? We got along like a house on fire and my producer Rangita and Sunny also got along famously. I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun on a film. We used to meet after shoot and I used to torture her (Sunny) by eating pizza every day. She couldn’t eat it because she had to wear a bikini almost every second day. I had a fabulous time, and what I hope people enjoy and learn is that because they’re twins, Lily is actually Sunny in real life – she’s like a geek, nerd and clumsy, the way Sunny actually is. Laila is the typical hot and sexy Sunny Leone everyone knows about, but Lily is the funny Sunny, which I think people, when they come out of the film will say she’s damn good at comedy. People are going to come out saying Laila’s hot and Lily’s hilarious, if I achieve that, I think I would be very happy.
Did you always have Tusshar Kapoor, Sunny and Vir Das in mind for the lead of the film?
Well, it was always Sunny, Tusshar and Vir from the start. I have a good relation with Tusshar because I had done SHOOTOUT AT WADALA with him as a writer. Vir, for me, was a very interesting combo because you have someone who has done this genre before like Tusshar and then you have Vir who is India’s biggest stand-up comedian and he’s never done a commercial entertainer or a masala film in his life. So it was very interesting for me to pitch these two actors together. I was very fortunate I got who I wanted because when I met them, I had just the first half. In detail, with dialogue, I had just till the interval. I had an idea of what the second half was going to be, so credit to all of them that they signed the film on the basis of this. Then was a bigger responsibility for Mushtaq and me to make sure that the second half is better than the first half they’ve signed the film on. Fingers crossed, touchwood, till now whoever has seen the film, has come out saying the second half is way better. So that’s a positive thing. Mrs. Nandy told me this is the first film in my career where people have come out saying the second half is better. I hope that actually translates when audiences come to the theatre.
So was it difficult to convince Vir for the movie, since you said that he hasn’t done this genre before?
No it wasn’t difficult. I think he wanted to do something commercial and because of my legacy as a writer with MASTI, GRAND MASTI, HOUSEFULL or MAIN TERA HERO, he had a lot of faith in this genre. After I narrated it to him, he always says you conned me with your narration. He found my narration very interesting and funny. He was a little apprehensive, but he felt that if he has to do such kind of genre, then maybe this is the film to do it with. At least do it with somebody who’s relatively new as a director but has done this genre as a writer very often and successfully. He also had a great relation with PNC and Rangita because he had done SHAADI KE SIDE EFFECTS with them, which he had a great experience on. So I think it was a mix of both – he knew Rangita would make sure the film looks good. She styled it very well. I would say the film looks good because of her.
Since Vir is a stand-up comedian, did he have any inputs?
Vir has this thing called play takes – where he does what I want him to do and after that he says give me a play take, let me do what I want to do. Then he would improvise and come up with something totally different, which I think none of us were prepared for. Lot of times it was really good. There are quite a few places in the film where the eventual cut is Vir’s version. He didn’t change the dialogue so much because as a dialogue writer I wouldn’t let him, but the way he said it or his body language was different. I gave him all the freedom to do that because I think he’s damn funny.
Was there any scene which was difficult for you to shoot?
The climax was a bit difficult. It was an extremely elaborate climax. It’s a mad climax that takes place in this factory were the whole cast was there, by whole cast I mean the double role Sunny Leone also. Technically to shoot a double role is more time consuming. It needs lots more planning. I can’t make a change 40 times in and out of the two characters. So I have to schedule my shoot in a way that I finish with Laila or Lily and then I shoot the other sister after that. That’s easier when it’s a simple scene, but with the climax, I had limited number of days to shoot because the location was booked by someone else. Rangita tried very hard to get me the extra days. I would’ve ideally needed 5 days to shoot that climax but only had 3. That was when I felt I was racing against time. I was literally on some adrenaline because I was like a mad man trying to finish every shot as fast as possible pushing the whole team – assistants, action team, DOP, actors. It’s a crazy climax where if one take goes wrong, doing the second take takes time since things have to be put back in place.
Since you mentioned the time constraint, did you have to make any changes because of that?
Yes, I did and I have done that constantly. As a writer, the advantage is that you have the capacity to tweak something. There’s a scene where Tusshar and Vir are washing a horse and there Shaad Randhawa (he plays someone who’s paralyzed waist down, and needs to be on a wheelchair). We were shooting an hour away from the hotel and somehow my team forgot to get the wheelchair. Even though they said they’ll go back and get it, I said that I can’t wait 2 hours so I rewrote the scene on the spot and made Shaad crawl on the grass. Along with him, Asrani ji and Suresh (Menon) are also crawling when they come upon Vir and Tusshar washing the horse. There’s another scene where Tusshar and Sunny admit that they love one another and Suresh, who loves Tusshar, is heartbroken. So suddenly we realize that Suresh has bangles on his hand and he starts breaking them. Now the bangles we found in Pattaya were made of metal. There were no glass bangles available there. On the spot I changed the line and he said, ‘What nonsense! Dil toot gaya lekin choodiyan nahi toot rahi’ (My heart is broken, but these bangles aren’t breaking). In the climax also, I did a few things, touchwood, most of the times it’s turned out funnier. I think when we’re pushed against the wall you come up with something funnier, madder, which has happened quite a lot in this movie.
Who all have seen the film to say the second half is better than the first half?
A few friends, colleagues; Mohit Suri has seen a lot of portions. There’s Tushar Hiranandani, who’s been my co-writer for MASTI and GRAND MASTI. He saw the film and freaked out – absolutely loved it. Internally in PNC, the actors have seen it and touchwood, they’ve come out ecstatic. Before I started also, I narrated the script to Mohit and Tushar and they both loved it. Whatever inputs they had, I incorporated them. So I’m hopeful that the way they have loved it, even audiences enjoy the movie.
The film had faced a lot of censor issues previously. What do you have to say?
When we made the film, we knew there would be certain issues, so I shot extra. Whatever is there in the film now has been arrived at a consensus with the censor board. They’ve done their job and I’ve done mine to retain what I set out to make in this film. All I can say is that people who’ve loved GRAND MASTI and have come to see MASTIZAADE, will get more than what they got in GRAND MASTI. I’m not going to fool people by putting things in promos when they’re not in the film because that only disappoints audiences later.
MATIZAADE is releasing just a week after KYA KOOL HAI HUM 3. Will that affect the film’s box office collection?
I’ve written both the films, I think both are going to do well as the buzz for both the films is very strong. I have a feeling that this is going to be the naughtiest month in history where audiences are going to go berserk enjoying both the films.
Would you like to direct films other than comedy?
As a writer I’ve done it a lot in SHOOTOUT AT WADALA, KAANTE, MUSAFIR, EK VILLAIN, 24 (Anil Kapoor’s television show). As a director I’ve not yet done it. The next that I’m making is called MUBARAKA. It’s a comedy but not an adult comedy. It is a family comedy. The thing is people want you to make what sells and works. Because I faced so much success as a writer with GRAND MASTI, the logical next step was to make the soul brother of GRAND MASTI, which is how MASTIZAADE was born. If MASTIZAADE does fabulously, we’ll obviously, hopefully, make a sequel but I’ll also explore other genres as a director.
What do you enjoy more- writing or directing?
Directing. I would rather be the captain of the ship than one of the officers. It’s way more responsibility, stress and energy required but it’s also way more fulfilling. You are actually planning and have a point of view in everything. It’s in your control. Obviously, the blame can come to you also, but at the same time the accolades can come to you if the film works.