Stree helmer Amar Kaushik wins Filmfare Award for Best Debutant Director: Didn't expect it so early in my career

Seema Sinha

Mar 24, 2019 17:37:10 IST

Amar Kaushik, director of horror-comedy Stree, is ecstatic to win all three awards – Filmfare, Screen and Zee, in the ‘Best Debutant Director’ category, and while he celebrates he also feels a bit of pressure of maintaining the good run. “Now I will have to work harder if I want more awards in the future. But am sure this ‘black lady’ in my house will keep me motivated to doing good work albeit not necessarily for the award. Now it all depends upon me, how much efforts I will put in," said Kaushik in an exclusive chat with Firstpost.

Stree helmer Amar Kaushik wins Filmfare Award for Best Debutant Director: Didnt expect it so early in my career

A still from Stree. Image via Twitter/@Shraddhas_Gems

StreeBadhaai Ho and Andhadhun are believed to be the harbingers of change in the year 2018 that has seen small and medium budget films performing well as opposed to Race 3, Thugs of Hindostan and Zero, which were underwhelming experiences. Kaushik, who was an assistant of the director-duo Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, was brought to direct Stree, scripted by them. Inspired by an urban legend, the movie, starring Rajkummar Rao and Shraddha Kapoor, was about a spirit that preyed on the men of the village.

“Filmfare is a dream for any technician, or any artist. I would see the trophy in offices where I worked before. Even when I lived in Kanpur, I remember watching the award show on television during winter tucked under a quilt while eating peanuts. At that time, I used to wonder what kind of world it must be and today I am part of the same world, holding the same ‘black lady’, the same ‘Stree’ in my hand. It feels a bit unreal as I never expected to get the award so early in my career and that too for my first feature film,” said Kaushik.

Kaushik began his film career in 2008 working as Raj Kumar Gupta's assistant director on Aamir and and ventured into solo directing with his short film Aaaba. So, he is not new to awards. Scripted by Kaushik, Aaaba won the Special Jury Prize for 'Best Short Film' at the 2017 Berlin International Film Festival. The film further went on to win over 30 more awards.

But more than the award for 'Best Debutant Director', Kaushik feels honoured and proud for being nominated in the 'Best Director' category as well. “In Filmfare nomination for 'Best Debutant Director', Tummbad and Pari were very good films and I was competing with those directors, then, on top of it I was also nominated for the 'Best Director', along with Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Sriram Raghavan, Raju Hirani and Meghna Gulzar, which is a far bigger award than getting the Debut award. That I felt was a bigger achievement,” he said, further adding, “Since I had already bagged Screen and Zee awards, I had some hope of getting Filmfare as well but I was not sure especially because I felt there was stiff competition with Tummbad which was also highly appreciated by the audience,” said Kaushik.

What must have gone in favour of Stree? “Well, I can’t say much on that but I feel even the jury must have been in a quandary and wondering whom to pick. I can’t comment on their process but yes, it was unexpected,” said Kaushik.” So, has the industry and people started looking at him differently? “People who I wanted to work with and I used to talk about, I am getting to work with them, which itself is a big thing. If people are saying that they know me, that itself I consider as huge. What is the industry’s perception towards me, that I will know gradually. You can’t judge from your first film," said Kaushik.

Kaushik’s next film, Bala, with Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar, will go on floors in May. The two have already delivered two successful films: Dum Laga Ke Haisha in 2015 and Shubh Mangal Saavdhan in 2017. After dealing with erectile dysfunction in Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, Ayushmann will be seen suffering from premature balding in Bala. Bhumi, who played his overweight wife in their first film together, will be seen as a ‘dusky small-town girl’. “It is a slice- of-life comedy with some satire involved. It has shaped quite well so far and we will finish the shoot by July-August. We haven’t decided about the release date yet but it could be this year end or early next year,” said Kaushik.

Kaushik, who calls himself a keen observer and draws inspiration from real life people, further said, “Only after the story is ready I think about the actors who will suit the characters. So far, for both my films, whoever I had in mind while writing the script, has been part of the film. I always wanted Ayushmann in Bala,” added Kaushik, whose wish-list includes many current generation actors. “I would love to work with Ranveer, Ranbir, Alia...And of course, my favourite Rajkummar. I would like to do every second or third film with Rajkummar. Even Ayushmaan.. all this new breed of actors are so good. While shooting, it doesn’t feel that you are working, it feels that you have gone on a picnic with them,” he said.

He continues, “I would definitely want to work with huge established actors also but it all depends upon what the story demands. Whether they fit into the story, whether they want to work with me, or whether they are free when we are making the film, there are a lot of factors involved. And then, they have their own commitments for one year or more, so can you wait for that long?”

Going forward, most importantly, Kaushik says, he would make sure that he doesn’t get typecast with just one or two genres of filmmaking. “I would love to change my genre with every film. First film was a horror comedy, second is slice-of-life drama, humour and comedy, and for my third film, I am thinking of a thriller and after that drama…I don’t want people to think that I can make only horror comedy. I will shape my career in such a way that people don’t typecast me. Let’s see how much I can fulfill that,” he says.

Lastly, the writer-director decides to quash the widely believed theory of small town films working at the box-office considering the success rate last year. “Barring four cities, rest all are small towns. Earlier, we used only one language in our films which is Hindi but now we are using different dictions, twangs and we are also exploring the whole city, whereas earlier we would shoot in studios. Those were also small town stories. If you look at Amitabh Bachchan’s old movies, those were small town stories. It was always like that but we wouldn’t shoot the way we do now. We have started shooting in gullies, lanes and by-lanes of small towns. That is the only difference,” says Kaushik. He signs off saying, “I won’t just stick to small-town stories. Even a story of a big city tycoon can be really exciting.”

Updated Date: Mar 24, 2019 17:37:10 IST

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