Loveyatri director Abhiraj Minawala says Salman Khan wanted an endearing love story like Maine Pyar Kiya

Seema Sinha

Oct,06 2018 17:32:07 IST

After working with Yash Raj Films (YRF) for about a decade, Abhiraj Minawala was 'hijacked' by Salman Khan to direct Loveyatri – the launchpad of the superstar’s brother-in-law Aayush Sharma. The film hit the screens on Friday. It was during the making of Sultan, which was Minawala’s last film as an assistant director, Salman asked him his future plans. “After Sultan released, I narrated a few ideas to him but he felt that those were not the best ideas for a debut film. Those were more of action and big budget subjects, whereas Salman felt that I should start with a simple, endearing love story with a commercial appeal. That would be ideal for both, actors as well as me, he felt. His reference would always go back to Maine Pyar Kiya. He narrated to me a love story which writer Niren Bhatt (of Ventilator) had shared with him. I met Niren and we took off from there,” says Minawala, who was also influenced by the fact that most of the directors at YRF had started with a romantic comedy. “Maneesh Sharma started with Band Baaja Baaraat; Ali Abbas, who has made Sultan and Tiger Zinda Hai, had started with Mere Brother Ki Dulhan,” he added.

Warina Hussain and Aayush Sharma in a still from Loveyatri. YouTube

Warina Hussain and Aayush Sharma in a still from Loveyatri. YouTube

Minawala started his directorial career with filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor, and probably his “commercial sensibilities” took him to Yashraj, where, besides assisting Shimit Amin, Ali Abbas Zafar and Maneesh Sharma, he also got the opportunity to work with Yash Chopra on Shah Rukh-Anushka-Katrina-starrer Jab Tak Hai Jaan. “I began as an assistant to Shimit Amin on Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year. Further, I did three films each with Ali and Maneesh. I was lucky to assist Yash Chopra as well. I would love to direct for Yashraj. This is my film school, my institution. Even as Salman has given me my first break, I consult all three – Aditya (Chopra), Salman and Maneesh. To me, it doesn’t matter whether it is SKF (Salman Khan Films) or YRF. Both are like family for me. Aditya encouraged me to do the SKF film (Loveyatri). There was no feeling that I was leaving Yash Raj and going, in fact, there was a proud feeling that I was getting an opportunity of making a film outside Yash Raj as well,” says Minawala.

While Loveyatri is a simple love story where an NRI girl meets the boy in India during the Navratri festival, Minawala says the film is a refreshing departure from the usual 'clichéd' and 'caricaturish' way of presenting a particular community. “For instance, earlier the Delhi approach in movies was, ‘Tu jaanta nahi main kaun hoon', but movies like Band Baaja Baaraat, Khosla Ka Ghosla broke that norm. Similarly, Bareilly Ki Barfi presented UP in a real way. The Gujarati characters have often been shown loud in movies, tele-serials to make it look more entertaining. This film is more realistic and shows what today’s Gujarat is all about and that flavor makes it unique. I am a Gujarati myself, I have a family in Ahmedabad and they don’t speak like what's usually shown. We haven't gone over the top, it's all controlled here,” says the director. 

To make the film’s protagonist prep, the director took him to Ahmedabad and Vadodara once he had locked the locations. “Aayush is from Himachal and has studied in Delhi. He wasn’t aware of what today’s Gujarat is. So I did an exercise of showing him around and also asked the local team to get me few young Bori boys to interact with him on a daily basis. The way the youth in Gujarat talks, the flavour, the diction, clothes they wear, their lifestyle… Aayush tried to understand all of that. But we have not gone too much into Gujarat because at the end of it, there has to be the pan India approach. But the extended supporting cast is from theatre and Gujarati films. Then we have senior actors like Manoj Joshi, Ronit Roy, who are also from Gujarat, while Ram Kapoor breaks the norm,” says Minawala.

Launching a newcomer is a huge responsibility and here he was launching Salman's brother-in-law. "Yes, there is a lot of pressure on me but it is not because Aayush is in the film. It is also my first film. Salman is launching a new trio. Three careers are dependent upon each other. But the confidence that Salman showed at the script level and that I can helm a film in his banner more so with his brother-in-law, gave me a lot of self-belief. And then, he also told me that I shouldn’t worry about the box office numbers: ‘You guys are starting your careers, you have to put a good film out there. You have to be appreciated for the film. You don’t have to worry about the numbers’, that further eased things for us,” says Minawala.

Updated Date: Oct 06, 2018 17:32 PM