Director Laxman, who brings a small-town story in Zara Hatke Zara Bachke, on how Vicky and Sara prepped for a month to understand milieu and characters’ mindset
The film revolves around a couple’s efforts to own their dream home
There is something about small-town people and their aspirations that make for heartwarming stories, believes Laxman Utekar. Which is why his lens is often trained on them. For his third Hindi directorial venture, Zara Hatke Zara Bachke (ZHZB), Utekar takes his audience to the colourful alleys of Indore. “Our country is so vast, with so many small towns and villages. They have numerous stories of their own. I want to explore that with every film. Luka Chuppi  was set in Gwalior, Mimi  in Mandawa, and Zara Hatke Zara Bachke is set in Indore. A chunk of the population lives in such places. We should make movies for the wider audience,” he reasons.
What makes the Vicky Kaushal and Sara Ali Khan-starrer fit for a larger audience is its universal theme — it traces a middle-class couple’s struggle to buy a home of their own. Utekar says that “everyone across the country”, whether city-bred or hailing from small towns, harbours this dream. “In India, everyone wants to have their own home. It’s not easy buying or even selling a house.”
With this insight, Utekar set out to make ZHZB with Kaushal and Khan, who were his first choice for the roles. In fact, the lead character of Kapil was written with Kaushal in mind. “While we needed star value, we also wanted someone who looks smart, and is believable as a middle-class guy. Vicky has a grasp of the ground reality, and can portray the middle class realistically. When I met Sara, I realised she is exactly like Soumya [her character].”
Slipping into the roles did not come easy. The two actors did month-long workshops to understand their characters’ mindset, and the milieu the story is set in. “There is an India beyond Khar, Santacruz, and Juhu that people don’t know about. In small towns, people save daily for the next day. They won’t buy anything without bargaining hard; their choice of clothes, lifestyle, and mode of transport are all a reflection of their middle-class nature. Vicky and Sara had to absorb these traits. Vicky had to learn the Indori dialect. So, eight days before we started shooting, Sara and he reached Indore. They interacted with the locals, [studied] how they dress, their manner of speaking, and behaviour.”
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