Aleya Sen: Taapsee Pannu is a director's baby, she just surrenders herself
Dil Juunglee director, debutante - Aleya Sen is quite ecstatic with her film all set to hit the marquee. From an ad director to directing a feature film, Aleya shares her experience of making this film, working with Taapsee Pannu and Saqib Saleem
Dil Juunglee director, Aleya Sen.
A young, energetic debutante filmmaker - Aleya Sen is all set to taste the waters of Bollywood with Dil Juunglee. The film is Aleya's perspective of seeing love and relationships in the current scenario. The director with a background of television commercials is sure to strike a chord with the youngsters with this light-hearted and coming of age film. Aleya also makes some revelations of how she began this journey and why this film is special in an interactive chat session with mid-day online.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
What inspired you to make a feature film?
I think it was a natural progression that was meant to happen as I have been into direction for quite a time. It's not like, suddenly one day a feeling came that I want to make a film of that sort.
What is the difference between directing an ad film and a full-length feature film?
Technically, there are very few aspects that are different, other than the time span that you spent. In advertising, what happens is you shoot for about 2-3 days at a stretch and then you move on. But here you get to experience a wonderful journey of days where you create a number of bonds and also to have people convinced and work as passionately for your story or your film.
What is Dil Juunglee all about? What was your inspiration behind this film?
For me, Dil Juunglee is not like people standing in the middle of the roads, screaming, shouting and stuffs like that. Dil Juunglee is when you are in love and you come out of your comfort zone to do stuff which is out of your character that makes your heart wild. Probably one and only time when your heart is really wild is when you are in love. The most important aspect is my perspective of love and relationships. Someone could agree, and someone could completely disagree but this is how I look at relationships. When you are younger, you are much influenced by your peer groups, books that you read, movies that you watch but as you grow there is much more dynamic understanding about what love is. There is compatibility, maturity, friendship and lot of other aspects which are there. To be honest, this is my understanding that any creative work reflects you or your environment. At least in my case, it is a reflection of ‘ME' in somewhere. Like I said, how I look at love, relationships, and feelings. Things change as you grow. Also, characters in the film are from my real life. So of course, the story is a fragment of my imagination.
Were Saqib Saleem and Taapsee Pannu your first choice for the film?
Yes, absolutely. We did a music video and had gone for a recce. At the same time, we were also looking for a lead pair. In the meantime, it just happened that I did a music video which was 'Tum ho toh lagta hai'. I saw them together on the set and I actually thought that they were friends for a long time, only to realise later that they've just met on the sets. They have an amazing natural chemistry and it just looked perfect for me. Taapsee has been seen in a very different light before this, the kind of other films that she has done. For me, this has been a high to show something to audience little beyond their imagination. I will also like to add that apart from Saqib and Taapsee, because I have a lot of importance to other aspects to make a complete frame and story. So all my characters in the film, they are very much handpicked and chosen.
After directing Bollywood stalwarts like Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, and many other prominent faces. How was it directing these youngsters? Is there any difference in it?
Just to clarify, I did not direct Aamir Khan. Yes, obviously it was an honour to work with legends like Amitabh sir, Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar to name a few. It was a great experience of learning during the course of my direction. The major difference here lies that I have worked with them in ad films and yes, I am working with Saqib and Taapsee in a feature for the first time. And it was really fun and exciting directing them as I have already worked with Saqib and Taapsee in a music video as I said earlier.
What kind of a rapport do you share with Taapsee and Saqib?
Saqib for me is a kind of guy, who would be friends with everybody and Taapsee is a director's baby, she just surrenders herself. My first schedule of the film was in London, so we were all out of our own houses and were working long hours. So by default, you just become a part of each other's life. But there was a very good bonding between everybody. I am basically from a corporate world, and not an over-friendly person, but it's been a good feeling that I have felt.
How was the ambience of the sets?
I would say that all my actors are full of very high energy, it just happened coincidentally to be like that. For a couple of them, it was their first film. The weather of London is quite odd, difficult and unpredictable. Even at times of any such production issue, there are these actors who were very supportive. Talking of ambience, I feel they all were so naturally good together and bonded pretty well.
What kind of responses are you receiving for the film?
I think I am getting a very good feedback as of now. All that I was expecting people to understand from the trailer and songs, is coming through as it is. The first trailer is more about comedy and the second trailer has the dimension into it where the first half is completely different than the second half of the film. The first half of it portrays a very young, chirpy-natured and second half is kind of a mature, in-depth of a space. The first trailer was about young people getting attracted and in the second trailer, people know that it's for a universal age group. This film probably caters to 16 – 60 age group.
How do you see the celebration of women's day and it's importance?
Being a filmmaker, it's irrelevant what my gender is. It's as much hard work, passion, knowledge, and sacrifice required. On my sets, if there is any inhibition regarding my gender in anyone's head, then they need to change their mind! Because I can't change my gender and I won't stop making films. Gender discrimination exists for sure and it's not limited to just India. I shoot a lot abroad. I have got compliments shooting in Europe and Africa, they are in awe of a woman controlling the sets of 200 men. I started working at a very young age that too in Delhi, where the infrastructure of a film industry was very weak. I learned on the job and one of the most important things was learning how to be heard!