The makers of Chillar Party managed to make a small film big news by roping in both the shirtless superstar and Casanova (Ranbir) Kapoor to do very special appearances
Salman Khan might be fast becoming the face – thanks to the funny promos – of Chillar Party. But the real credit goes to Vikas Bahl and Nitesh Tiwari. The first-time directors share memories of the labour that went into accomplishing their love…
One fine day Vikas Bahl, who was then with UTV Spotboy, shared a story idea with ad-man at Leo Burnett, Nitesh Tiwari. And that’s how Chillar Party happened. A small idea grew very fast into a noise-making film, promoted by superstar Salman Khan and the new loverboy in B-town, Ranbir Kapoor. Promos for the film featuring Salman indulging in some kiddie fun with a bunch of boys are currently on air and rapidly collecting a fan club. And the buzz about the movie is not just positive, but growing louder by the hour.
After you finished writing the script, you pursued a few directors before taking the baton into your own hands….
Vikas: We chased directors for five or six months. We went to advertising directors. They were really excited about the script, so that was nice. Among the mainstream filmmakers, I actually bounced it off Majid Majidi (Iranian director of Children of Heaven). I narrated it to him for an hour and, after that, the only thing he said is, ‘Don’t take any one else to direct it’. We also realised one thing during that process – that as writers, we were not open to any change. We had become that sure about or possessive about what we had written. If you reach that stage, then you can’t give your work to another director! So then we thought, chalo hum log hi try kar lete hai.
The kids in your film are not trained actors; some were randomly picked off the streets…
V: Yes. Mukesh Chabbra was our casting director. He used to be on the streets every day looking for kids. Every day he would land up with three-four of them. He auditioned 7,500 kids over two months. Mukesh found Phatka (one of the eight characters) cycling on the street. The guy who plays this character, Irfan – his voice just got us! It had a strange texture to it. He sounded more than his age. His acting was quite okay.
Nitesh: He could just not get it right. But we did not let him be. There were two other kids in the running – they were better actors, but that X-factor was missing. Our unit too was not quite convinced that Irfan was the right choice for Phatka. But because both of us did not have any difference of opinion on that one, we went ahead with him. And, trust me, he really surprised us!
Directing kids is very tough. How did you get work out of them?
V: I think they got work out of us.
N: We told our production guys that they were in for a disaster. First-time directors, ten kids who have not faced the camera and one untrained dog; everything can go wrong in this film. We had rigorous workshops with all of them. Mukesh and Vijay Maurya trained them.
V: In the workshop we didn’t teach them how to act. We just taught them things like how to come to the mark, how to not look into the camera, how to follow instructions without shifting the eyes…
So, it must have been easy…
N: Whatever said and done, kids will be spoilt brats. Suddenly you have an instructor who is not very nice and you are spoilt brat, then you will not take it very kindly. We would use his name even while shooting. Once, the kids refused to shoot because they had differences. So we organised a meeting with Vijay. They were having fights with each other. He was our trigger to get them to do what we wanted them to do.
Salman came on board as a co-producer after watching the film. Ranbir Kapoor shot an item number. Had you planned that from the beginning?
N: We had no such plans at that time. We were not thinking that far.
V: The film was shot two years ago. We wanted to release it last summer, but we missed the deadline, so we had no choice. We were hoping that one day Salman would see the film. For two reasons: one, because we are his fans and, second, the film has the same attitude as him. It’s a very fearless. It’s a film where your heart dictates what you want to do and you go out there and do it. For us, Salman represented that personality of the film. So we thought that if he watches it, chances are that he will like it. And that’s what happened.
How did Ranbir get connected?
V: Actually, he just saw the film and loved it. He said, ‘Let me know if there is anything I can do’. I actually didn’t even know what to go back to him with!. And then after a month I thought that we can do an item number with Ranbir, because we felt he had a hidden tapori in him. So we went with this song.
Apparently Salman and Ranbir don’t see eye-to-eye. Did each know about the other’s association with the film?
V: Both knew it. Salman knew that Ranbir was doing an item number and Ranbir knew that Salman was coming on board as a producer. Both were actually absolutely okay with it.
N: In fact, we were sitting with Ranbir when we said ‘Let’s try get Sallu’.