"I was wary of Priyanka" - Uday Chopra

Uday Chopra talks about his baby- Pyaar Impossible. He is not only the lead actor of the film but also the man behind its script and direction...

Q. How did Pyaar Impossible come about? Did the idea come first or the story?
Ans: No the idea came first. I wanted to make this film much earlier. But at that point in time it was just one dimensional. This whole angle of beauty and the geek came in later. When I incorporated both of them together, about this guy who is in love with this unattainable girl, that's when the film came up.

Q. What was the inspiration?
Ans: The inspiration, was to do something on my own. To try to attempt a film which comes from inside me and I can put my sensibilities in it.

Q.  How long did it take to write the script?
Ans: The story as I said, was already in my mind. The script took a little bit of time. I started writing in November of 2007. I had the first draft ready in 2008. The film that we have shot now is in its 9th draft so the process continued for a long time.

Q. What was the challenge?

Ans: The challenge for me was that I had never written a script before this. I never thought that I would write one. In fact when I had this idea, I approached Jugal, who was busy with Roadside Romeo at that time.  I asked him if we both could write it together, but that time he was really tied up with the post-production of RR, so I actually started writing it on my own.

Q . Who did you have your script discussions with?
Ans: They mainly happened with my brother (Aditya Chopra), my father (Yash Chopra), my mother (Pamela Chopra) and Karan (Johar).  Everybody gave their opinion and that's where the editing started, even at the scripting stage.

Q . Tell us something about the story of the film.
Ans: The story of the film is about this guy who calls himself a geek, Abhay Sharma. For those who don't know what a geek is, he is more of an introvert, he doesn't have a social life and he is more into himself. He is socially inept. He doesn't mingle with people, beyond his comfort zone, especially with girls. But he is very intelligent. There are various kinds of geeks; in this case Abhay is a techno-geek. So this geek falls in love with a girl and just likes her from afar, doesn't know how to talk to her. It so happens that one day in life, few years later, he has to face her and they get to know each other. That is where the story lies. The title, Pyaar Impossible, suggests what the story is.  That it's the love which is just not possible between these two characters.

Q. Why a geek?
Ans: A geek lends a dramatic angle to the story, because it's so diametrically opposite. Also I think geeks are characters who are not fully explored in Indian cinema. I consider myself a geek. I think it's a different character - how he behaves; he is shy, but at the same time he is intelligent. He is not a fool! He has just not been able to say his mind. I thought it would lend itself very well to the film.

Q.  What kind of geek are you?
Ans: I am a techno-geek, just like Abhay. I was also the same way in school. I had a crush on this girl in school and I could not go and tell her that. I used to write poems. I used to collect her empty chips packet. So I think the character does emerge to some extent from the past experience. I still think I am like that.

Q. How did you zero down on Jugal as the director?
Ans: Well Jugal came in much earlier. He is a friend of mine. At the time he was making Roadside Romeo, I told him I am writing this film and asked him if he would like to write it with me. Then I asked him if he would like to direct it for me. Jugal and I saw eye to eye on this as always. The kind of film it is, the kind of sensibility it has, we were very clued into that. For a writer, if you are giving your script to somebody and if he doesn't see it the way as you see it, it can turn out to be something else. But Jugal and I were on the same page. I realized that he would be the right choice as a Director for the film.

Q.  So many roles, how difficult is it being a Writer, Producer and Actor?
Ans:  You are right. I am doing a lot of things in the film. I have written it, I am producing it and I am acting in it. Before I got into it I was thinking – 'I don't know how I will do it!' But it's just a gradual process. Once I finished writing, I got into the production aspect of it and on the set I was an actor. Everything just flowed. I had a great team, the Assistant Director's, the production team. We were so happy on and off the sets and no one had any personality issues with anyone. Everyone got along with each other. So that really helped.

Q. Were you always present on the set?
Ans: Ya, I would always be there on the set. I have been there since shooting started, from day one. As a Producer, I have been physically and mentally involved because it's my baby, it's my first film. I feel really strongly for the film. I am putting so much of myself in it.

Q . How did the film happen?
Ans: I think the moment Priyanka (Chopra) came on board was the time we realized that the film was on and its going to be made. Because after the script was made, I wanted a big star for the film, Priyanka being my first choice. Since it is a star centric project, I would probably have not done the film had no star agreed to it. So when she came on board, we started the whole project, like music, other character actors.

Q .Why Priyanka?
Ans:- When I started writing I did not have anyone  specific in mind. But once I finished, I felt I needed a big star for this film. Not just in terms of looks but in terms of audience perception as well. I wanted people to feel that this guy will never be able to get that girl and I wanted somebody to have that high star status. Priyanka is also a great actress and I wanted one for the film. Also the character Alisha, there is a zing to her and that suits Priyanka totally. She took her time but then she said yes. And Jugal and I keep saying this to each other – "dude, we are lucked out!"

Q .  Tell us something about your character in the film - that of a geek called Abhay Sharma.
Ans:  Abhay is a geek and we see him in two phases of life. One is when he is in college when I would call him a super geek. As you can see in the posters, he wears specs, braces, has funny hair and funny clothes. He has friends who are also geeks, he is not able to talk to girls, he is intelligent but does not have the courage to show it. And the later part is when he is a little mature and no longer thinks about the girl because he knows that he is not going to get that girl, so he tells himself to close that chapter of his life completely.

Q . What are the preparations you did for the role?
Ans: - Preparation!!  Well for one I wrote the film, so the character was in my head and second I believe that I am a geek so I had to just pull that out of me. For the mannerisms and the body language, I started observing people who work around me. Like Shimit Amin, the Director. I observed him - the way he stands, the way he carries himself - he has a very geeky way of doing things. The specs that I wear in the film are exactly like Shimit's specs.  I also studied classic geeks like Woody Alan, Bill gates and people who have made it in technology. We got characteristic uniformity in Abhay's appearance like clothes and all.

Q . How was it working with Priyanka?
Ans: - I don't know where to start. I was wary of her because she is a very big star. But right from the first shot I did with her I was super excited because she just didn't behave like a star, she was just like Jugal and me. We used to discuss everything. For the first time I felt that the actor was not an actor, she was part of the team. We used to write the scenes together. For not one moment did she say that 'I cannot shoot at this time or that time'. We were shooting for 12 - 13hours sometimes. But never did she complain. She had all the energy in the world. Sometimes I used to feel exhausted but she used to go on and on and I used to realize, if she is doing so much, I better match upto her! It was just fantastic.
She has surprised me. She never asked for anything that would be totally wrong to ask for. All she wanted to do was work towards this film to be made better. I remember once we were doing the photo shoot and the extras were not looking so good because of what they were wearing. Priyanka looked at them, went back to the costume van, opened all the clothes trunks, and she dressed them right. She was actually putting things on them! I looked at her and laughed at her and said 'you are the star of the film. Don't do it!' She said, 'no this is my film and I can't let any element destroy it'. Jugal and I looked at each other and since then we used to always say to each other, 'dude we are lucked out man'! This doesn't happen to your first film, you get a super star and she turns out to be like that. It was like a two hero film. There was nothing that she could not do. From roller blading to diving into swimming pools, she did it all. I really feel I don't know what Alisha would have been if she would not have been there.

Q . How was it working with Jugal as a Director?

Ans: Jugal and me had the same sensibilities for the film. He has brought in his own perspective yet keeping in mind what I had envisaged for the film. We were on the same page. It was never over powering. It was openly discussed. The Director has the final call but he also understands that there are other people who contribute towards the film. He uses the talent wisely. So the film is better off because of this. He never had any ego, he used to listen to any suggestion that people would give and incorporate if he felt that it helped improve the film.

Q . Did any clashes happen with Jugal, he being a friend?
Ans;- No. I thought going on to set, we might have some problem because we have been friends, but luckily we didn't have any egos standing in the way. The fact that we are friends actually helped us.

Q. Tell us something about the Director of Photography, Santosh Thundiyil.
Ans:  Santosh has earlier worked on Kuch Kuch Hota hai. We wanted somebody who could shoot really clean frames. The main objective of this film was to make the girl look really desirable and beautiful. That's the brief I gave him. He totally brought that out on screen. Priyanka has never looked so good in any of the films and the credit goes to him. He has brought that feel good tone to the film.

Q.  What about the choreographer, Ahmed Khan.
Ans: Everybody has contributed to the film. Its Ahmed's energy and young vibe that is fantastic. It's not the usual old pattern and not just having a dance-dance thing but keeping it realistic. We both have passion for our work, we both love food, so it's been great!

Q. How was Manish Malhotra as the costume designer?
Ans:  Alisha wouldn't have looked what she is looking had Manish not been there. I would give Manish full marks for that. Manish is an old friend. He has got an amazing eye for what works on screen. And at the same time what works for the character. I had a different perception of Alisha, but when we did the photo shoot and Manish showed me some references, I told Manish , 'I am so glad you are on board with this film, otherwise I may have taken the character somewhere else'.

Q. What was the best part about Bangkok?
Ans: The time when we shot in University, but specifically in the pool. We went mad that day. A lot of people have seen us doing weird stuff specially jumping off from the long diving board. Apparently Priyanka had this desire to jump of this 5 story high diving board, she challenged me and though I have a fear of heights, we both did it.

Q. What about Singapore?
Ans: Singapore in itself is very beautiful. But the song that we shot in Clark Quay was really memorable. We shot at a really happening time in the night, so we had nice food, nice coffee, spent time chatting and yes, by the way we did some shooting as well.

Q What about your last schedule in Mumbai?
Ans:  A little bit more hectic. We did a lot of set work in Mumbai. We had a great time even then though.

Q . Tell us something about the website of Pyaar Impossible?
Ans: The website was an idea from my marketing team. They suggested having a website not when the film was completed, but even when the film was still being shot. From the moment we started shooting the film, we made videos and put them up on the website so that people actually enjoyed the entire process while the film was being made. We had images, videos write ups, etc.  The kind of feedback I got was that it was a very well designed website; my internet team has done a fantastic job on that.

Q .There was a guy who used to be present always with a camera? Was it irritating to be captured on camera every time?
Ans:  He is one of our Assistant Directors, Harsh. He is the reason, people could see the lovely videos on the website and we must thank him for the same! It wasn't irritating to me at all. I was the producer, I had asked him to be there. It was a fun thing to suddenly popup with a camera and be there every day. The camera was the extension of his hand. So I enjoyed it, I knew it was serving a purpose.

Q.  What are your thoughts on the music of your film?
Ans: The music of the film is very much a part of the story. Salim-Suleiman, the music directors, have outdone themselves. Every time I went to their studio and heard a new track I used to be bowled over. The songs are very fresh. Anvita wrote the lyrics and they would compose the song.

Q . Why did you decide to use Salim-Suleiman as the music directors?
Ans:  Jugal had worked with them and I had worked with them in my earlier film as well. I loved the music of that film. I wanted a very young and fresh sound for my film. I wanted the songs to have a cool vibe – real, but not boring.  Salim , Suleiman , Anvita and Jugal would just sit and jam. They would just come up with words and ideas and call me. Then I would say this is it and go ahead with it.

Q . What has been the general reaction to the Music?
Ans: Everybody who has heard the album has reacted well. They have really liked it. My parents have really liked it. I was a little wary of my parents because it's very young and youthful music, they would love more melodic music but they have also liked it specially Alisha.

Q. How was it shooting for the song, Alisha?
Ans: It was the first song shoot. Ahmed had just come on board, Priyanka was looking amazing, and it was shot on the university campus. The best thing was that we were finishing all the songs before the schedule. Alisha was also wrapped up before the schedule. If we kept 5 days for the songs, we would complete it in 3 days because there was so much of energy. The song has a great vibe. It makes us feel great!

Q . Your reaction when you first heard the song, Alisha?
Ans: It was instant. I heard it and it was like 'bang'! There was nothing changed in the song. It was made; we heard it and went on to the next. The liking was so instant! We have put a rock concert theme in the Alisha song. It was just to establish, that Alisha is not just the cute girl in college, she is a hardcore rock star as well. She has a girl rock band called Rockmantics. She is the lead singer of the band. That part of the song was shot in a day and shows her character is different from other girls. That's one of the reasons why Abhay falls for her.

Q.  What are your thoughts on the title track, Pyaar Impossible?
Ans:  For me it's the best song of the film. It's not just a love song. It encapsulated the essence of the film. It's very conversational. It's about a situation in the film where the debate is whether a person like Alisha and a geek like Abhay can fall in love.

Q. How did the geek look for Alisha come about?
Ans: Abhay is trying to show Alisha life through his eyes. To do that he makes her dress like a geek. It's really hard to make Priyanka look like a geek! We tried a look on her and she looked cute. We wanted her to look unattractive! If Alisha, as Alisha, would go out to a guy and ask for his number, he would surely go out with her. So we really had to work towards making her look undesirable.

Q . What is 'Ek thi Ladki' the song about?
Ans: Ek thi ladki is an important part of the film according to me. The whole song is played by kids on stage and it's them and Priyanka's reaction to them. Once people see the song, they will realize that it has an important purpose in the film. As a song it's cute!

Q. Tell us something about the last song – 'You and Me'.
Ans: You and Me is the music video for our film. That was the only song where we could take liberty and do something whacky with it, something more in terms of sound and visuals. We sat with Ahmed who came out with this concept. Shoot the entire song with white background. I think that people would really like it. It probably shows what a geek would think of.

Q . How was your experience shooting this music video with Priyanka?
Ans: The whole shooting experience for the entire film has been so much of fun with Priyanka, that I cannot zero down on any special thing like a music video or anything. Whatever I have done in the film, is enhanced only because she was acting in front of me.

Q.  Did you take any suggestions from your brother Adi (Aditya Chopra)?
Ans: I trust my brother's judgment a lot. He has done so much and earned a name for himself. I am not the kind of a person who says that "this is my script and I'm going to make it". I wanted feedback from the people who have my best interest at heart. So I wrote my first draft and I went to Adi, he of course hated it. He told me to try writing it again. I remember it was the third or the fourth draft which he liked. I remember he had the script in his hand, first thing he did was he flung it on the bed and he said it's fantastic. His reaction was like "it's superb! You should go ahead and make this film". I had Adi's consent and if he liked it I had the confidence to go ahead and make it. Having his excitement on the project gave me the confidence to make it.

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