DLKH was your first film as a producer at YRF. What made you take the plunge as a producer?
Maneesh: Some take the plunge, others are tripped into the pool. I am definitely the latter. Producing films was nowhere in my scheme of things but I had not anticipated the plans of one Mr Aditya Chopra. Shuddh Desi Romance had just released and I was prepping for Fan. One fine day, a conversation initiated by Adi led to me becoming a producer pretty much overnight. C ‘est la vie!
You broke through in Bollywood with DLKH – did you expect this reaction when you were writing the film?
Sharat: No, one is not thinking any kind of (such thing), one is always unsure and is always trying to write with the best possible ideas one can have while writing. There was no expectation if you’re asking, I was overwhelmed by the reaction but never expected it like that.
As a producer, what are the kind of stories that you want to tell?
Maneesh : Irrespective of which role I am engaged in a movie with – producer, director or story writer – I rely a lot on my instinct. It’s a lot to do with what feels right at that stage of life and you click with a narrative or a character or a genre and you back your instinct and commit to investing your time and energy into the process. So far, that’s mostly worked for me, I guess.
What do you think is the USP of DLKH that it has achieved a cult status?
Sharat: I really don’t know, I honestly don’t know. I saw the film a year after it was released, again, at a film festival with the audience, and later on also, a couple of years later, again I saw it. I still don’t know what worked with the audience, but I’m assuming that It still is a hypothetical answer from my end, maybe the comedy, the characters, or I don’t know what really worked, or what was new in it, because when I hear the word ‘fresh’, I don’t know what was fresh in it? I really have no idea, I can’t break it down for myself. If I could, I would do that again.
When you and Sharat were teaming up for DLKH – did you expect the film to reach where it has now?
Maneesh : All we really hoped for was for the audience to connect with the grounded and nostalgic quality of the narrative. The love and warmth the film has received over time, does validate our conviction. Each film has its own measure of ambition. This one did tick many of the boxes.
You have India a fresh, new and exciting pairing of Ayushmann and Bhumi who have now had a hattrick of hits. What do you think made these two so endearing in DLKH that people have loved them ever since?
Sharat: It’s just their talent nothing else! It’s their talent of getting into the skin of the character and becoming the characters they’ve asked for, for any film that they do. And I’m sure that is why their films work and their performances work and so yes, it is purely their own talent.
What was the first thing you and Sharat said to each other when you won the National Award for the film?
Kya baat kar raha hai !!
What was your reaction when you won the National Award for the film?
Sharat: I have very fond memories. One thing was that I got to know of it from a friend’s tweet. I didn’t know about it when it was being announced, so one of my friends tweeted it and I got to know and I was like ‘really?’ I was not expecting it and I was not even aware that awards were announced or (the film was) submitted for the awards. I’ll tell you bit by bit what had happened, my first reaction was like Oh God! I won’t be able to work the whole day now. First, it wasn’t sinking in but it sank in when there were multiple phone calls after that and I remember calling Maneesh. I told him that the film has won a National Award, not just for the film but also for the best singer (Monali) and Varun (Grover) for the best lyrics as well. So, he was also equally surprised and he said, what are you saying! And then phone calls started coming and the phone was ringing non-stop. This has never happened to me, in my life, there were so many phone calls, it was really overwhelming, a very overwhelming experience.