Meri Pyaari Bindu director Akshay Roy: Ayushmann and Parineeti are perfect for their roles
Patience is definitely one of filmmaker Akshay Roy’s strengths. After all he waited almost a decade to get his break as a Hindi film director.
After some years assisting Farhan Akhtar, Mira Nair, Deepa Mehta and even working on a Hollywood biggie like The Bourne Supremacy, Roy decided it was time to work on his own feature film. He had worked on ad films, short films and wrote scripts, while waiting for the right thing to come along. And then his friend Maneesh Sharma, producer at Yash Raj Films, sent him the script of Meri Pyaari Bindu. One read and Roy knew this was his opportunity to switch hats.
Just days before the release of his debut film, Roy shares snippets of what it was like working on his long awaited first film.
What drew you to filmmaking?
When I was in at St Stephen’s College, Delhi, I did a lot of theatre as both actor and director. That’s when the bug bit. I moved to Mumbai in 2003 and I assisted Farhan on Lakshya, Mira Nair on The Namesake, Deepa Mehta on Water and worked on the India section of The Bourne Supremacy. I always wanted to direct films and in 2006 I decided not to assist anymore. I did a lot of short films and even managed to win a National Award for one of them (The Finish Line, 2011).
Who are your influences?
Almost Famous and Jerry Maguire are my favourite films. I like watching simple films that touch you and make you laugh. My influences would be Cameron Crowe, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Mani Ratnam and Rajkumar Hirani. Of course there are the classics like Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen. From the contemporary Indian filmmakers I like the work of Shakun Batra and Zoya Akhtar.
How do you keep going for 10 years?
Hope; it’s the only thing. And the self-belief that if I kept at it, it would happen because it was the only thing I was working on. I was writing my own stuff, writing scripts, making short films, contacting people, assisting on ad films etc. I was trying everything that everyone tries. But I guess it happens when it has to.
What clicked this time [with Meri Pyaari Bindu]?
Maneesh acquired the script. It was green lit and then he contacted me. We are both from Delhi and had been in touch off and on. He had seen my shorts and he thought my sensibilities would match. All I had to do was read the script and say yes. You get one shot. If I were not attracted to it I would not have done it. Meri Pyaari Bindu, written by Suprotim Sengupta, is a beautiful film with lots of heart and nostalgia. I found it relatable, warm, funny, and moving plus I felt I could add something of myself to it. I could bring it to life.
Did the film come with actors Parineeti Chopra and Ayushmann Khurrana attached to it?
No. It was very organic. I worked on the script a little with Supro and then we did a director’s draft with Maneesh after which came the casting. We all felt that Ayushmann and Parineeti were a great choice, and luckily they both said yes.
Why these two actors in particular?
Ayushmann because his character of Abhimanyu Roy is a boy next door. He has an innocence, honesty and likability to him. And Ayushmann has those qualities. You have seen it in Vicky Donor or Dum Laga Ke Haisha. His eyes are very honest. When he looks at someone and says something, you believe him. He plays a Bengali.
For Bindu we needed someone lively and free-spirited who’s an aspiring singer, so Parineeti was a good fit. She’s spontaneous and good with between-the-lines stuff. She works on her character but also thinks about the overview of the scene and discusses it. She’s a team player.
Music is almost a third hero in the film. Did it help that both Parineeti and Ayushmann are singers too?
They sang on set together, which probably helped the bonding and with what was happening on film.
Music is a very important element because we tell the story through a mix tape they make of old Hindi songs.
How was it shooting in Kolkata? Did people expect you to reply in Bengali?
We shot almost everything on location in Kolkata, Mumbai and a couple of days in Goa. I learnt one line in Bengali, which was to say I am not Bengali. My father is Punjabi and my mother is Parsi.
Were you nervous on the first day of shoot?
Of course I was nervous. I still am nervous. I have been nervous for a year and a half now. I over-prepare for every day that I am working. Fortunately, everything went as per plan. It helped that I had assisted on massive productions and was used to huge crews, so it was not daunting to see all those trucks and all those people.
Did you ever make any mix tapes?
Absolutely, I made tapes with mushy, romantic songs for some girls. No girls made any for me though.
Updated Date: May 10, 2017 13:09 PM