Anu Menon, director of the soon to release Ali Zafar-Aditi Rao Hydari-starrer London Paris New York speaks of how she got her first film made, her influences, her love for Bollywood and more…
A Tamilian married to a Keralaite, Anu Menon is still being confused with her namesake – who is popular as Lola Kutty on Channel [V] – by many in B-town. But she prefers the big screen and has worked hard to get there, having learned filmmaking in London and made short films and documentaries for a long time. She insists that Bollywood is close to her heart…
As an outsider, how did you mange to break in to Bollywood?
This is one of the best times to be in Hindi films – a star-driven film like Agneepath and a story-driven one like Stanley Ka Dabba both find their audience. The industry has never been this inviting for people who do not hail from film families. Of course, like all others, I had my share of struggle, but from the moment my producers Goldie Behl and Shrishti Arya read the script of London Paris New York, it was a cakewalk.
The trailer of LPNY is like a breath of fresh air, but it reminded us of Hum Tum…
The only similarity is that the protagonists meet each other and discover their love and themselves in three phases. That way, every love story can be looked upon as same, but what makes the difference is the treatment, the setting and the quirks. Hum Tum was not just about the protagonists; it had family and friends attached. LPNY is just about the boy and the girl and nobody else. It is about the conversations they have each time they meet. I felt that one ingredient missing from Hindi films was wit and with LPNY I have tried to bring it back.
How different would it have been if you had set your film in India?
The choice of setting the film in the three locations was not just random fancy, but intrinsic to the script. I have known these cities well and it was natural for me to set my story there. The traits of each place helped establish the mood of the film. The story begins in London and the peppy and upbeat air adds to the romance; Paris with its gothic architecture lends some gloom; and the finale in New York brings back the energetic vibe and helps in upping the romance quotient.
Tell us a little about your leads, Ali Zafar and Aditi Rao Hydari…
It was a treat working with them and their chemistry can be seen in the film. It is a fresh casting and both are multi-talented – Ali, a singer, and Aditi, a dancer, was an added bonus. The film is entirely conversational and revolves around just the two of them and the way they have performed made me very happy. They both were with me throughout and helped make my job easier. As an actor, Ali is laid back and charismatic; Aditi, on the other hand, is meticulous in her approach towards her role. She had made notes about her character and had discussed the nuances with me in great detail. Ali, the rockstar that he is, was more about spontaneity.
Item songs in a film are mandatory these days; how come your film doesn’t have one?
Ali and Aditi are the ‘items’ of my film, so why would I need another one? Frankly, there was no scope for an item number and we thought it was best to not force one into the film just for the heck of it.
You are a filmmaker trained in London; did you have to alter your style to make a Hindi film?
Not really, one big reason being that we didn’t shoot in India. My sensibilities might be inclined towards Hollywood, my soul is typically Bollywood.