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Friends Are Family Too

With their debut film Hum Chaar releasing this week, the team – director Abhishek Dixit and actors Prit Kamani, Simran Sharma, Tushar Pandey and Anshuman Malhotra – talk to Team Box Office India about how excited they are, their bond on the sets and working with Rajshri Productions

Box Office India (BOI): How easy or difficult was it to get your first break?

Prit Kamani (PK): This break means a lot to all of us. The Rajshri banner is the most iconic banner in the history of Indian cinema. Being part of its lead cast is itself an honour and a responsibility to represent the banner in a bright and beautiful way. We have done the best we could to present the story and the director’s vision. It has been a difficult journey but one that was also enriching.

Simran Sharma (SS): It seems unreal for someone like me, who is from outside the industry, who didn’t know anyone here. Just being in a film, let alone being a part of lead for such a big production house, was like a fairytale. About the easy or difficult part… it is both easy and difficult. It’s been a great journey.

Tushar Pandey (TP): It’s always a great opportunity if you are able to play a lead role in such a big production house. Rajshri does not release a film every year, only every few years. I had never imagined this would happen like this to someone like me. The credit goes to the script, to Rajshri, to Sooraj (Barjatya) sir and to Abhishek (Dixit) sir for letting this film be driven by people who are not known names. I believe that the journey in this industry is always difficult. The challenges will be more for the next film that you do and even more for the film after that because then you are aiming for something much bigger.

Anshuman Malhotra (AM): I too would say that it is easy and difficult, at the same time. There are two ways to see it. If you are having fun, it does not seem difficult. I am just 23 years old right now, so I won’t say I have been through many difficulties. I have been working and I have been having fun. I am originally from Kanpur. When I was called for the audition, I was very thankful that my character was also based in Kanpur because I could get the dialect right. I was the last person to audition for this character and I was very lucky to bag the part. We worked hard for this film. We had enough time to prepare ourselves before beginning the shoot. I feel really blessed and lucky, that way.

Abhishek Dixit (AD): I am also debuting with this film as a director. This is a new connection. My connection to the industry is new but with films it’s very old. We have been watching movies since childhood, and from that time you kind of decide that one day you are going to tell your story. It takes time and you have no idea how long it will take to get where you want to be. I took me 13 years to get here. I had some ideas and I was writing a few scripts. Later, I met Sooraj sir, I came up with this theme, and after many meetings we had a script in hand. It feels good to finally be able to tell a story and go from being an aspiring filmmaker to a filmmaker.

BOI: How did you come up with the idea of Hum Chaar?

AD: Actually, I had shared another story with Sooraj sir. But he suggested that two kinds of movies do well at box office – love stories and stories based on friendships. The friendship theme was given to Bollywood by Rajshri with the film Dosti in 1964 and they wanted to do something around that. We have seen a lot of marriages, we have seen families, and we have seen friendship as a theme in Rajshri’s films. We thought of marrying both themes, friendship and family, and this is how we came up with the line ‘Friends bhi family hai’.

We usually say ‘friends and family’ and not ‘friends are family’.  We wanted to blur the lines and make people say that friends are family too. After watching the film, if people start believing in friends as their own family, our job is done.

BOI: There have been many films on friendship and people have loved them. What makes Hum Chaar different?

TP:  Most of the references I have for friendship films are the masti in college and how they complement each other. That’s where I feel we have been very lucky to have a story which is actually about friends but not talking only about the same aspects. That whole idea of college, youth, masti, hungama and pagalpanti is a part of our story and that is how we connect to our old and close friends. But that is just one segment. If you have seen the trailer, the focus turns to understanding how friends bhi family hain, which is way beyond masti. The whole point is how to fall back on the people you are close to when there is an emergency. By the time you finish watching this film, the whole theme will make sense.

AD: I don’t think any of these films on friendship had this theme. This is not a college drama or a high school film, this is a very simple film about complicated friendships.

PK: The USP of the film is that by the end of it, you will end up messaging or calling friends you haven’t spoken to in years. That makes it different from other friendship films.

BOI: Abhishek, take us through the casting process. Why did you feel the four of them fit the bill?

AD: While writing the script, we had decided at the story stage that we would need newcomers to play those characters. We wanted to make sure that the film would not be the story of one character. It is titled ‘Hum Chaar’. So it has to be about four people. We were very clear about the casting. We wanted the audience to feel like they could relate to the characters in the film.

The casting process was totally based on merit. All of them had to go through auditions. Rehearsals are very important. It is my first film, so I constantly wanted to see if certain scenes or situations were working or not. During rehearsals, we changed a few things and discovered new things. When you work together before the shoot, it becomes easier on the shoot day; you are not confused and you know what is to be done. I don’t know if I am allowed to say this being a first-time filmmaker, but the story is more important than stars. Even if it does not open well, a film with a good story will work well eventually.

TP: 2018 has been a very good year that way. A lot of content-driven films have worked. Many did not have a known face, but people did go to watch those films.

BOI: How was the environment on the sets when you were working together?

AM: When we were shooting, we stayed in a college. We lived out of that college campus. When we went to shoot in the morning, we just walked there. We have actually lived college life there. We would to get up and go to the grounds. I have never been to college, so my mom is very happy that I got this experience!

AD: And it was a medical college. Sapna pura ho gaya mummy ka (Laughs). The biggest plus point was that whenever we would step out, all the girls used to shout for Anshuman (Laughs).

TP: We did many rehearsals for this film, more than usual. A month before we stared shooting, we rehearsed the film, all four of us, in the production office. We rehearsed every scene, recorded every scene. There was a very comfortable space between us and our characters. We were not super-concerned during the shoot about what our characters were. Abhishek made us very comfortable. And when you are shooting in a space which had a very similar vibe, a part of the film has been shot in college, it made us feel very relaxed.

SS: Spending time together also helped us get to know each other. Since we had spent so much time with each other before going on the shoot, we got to know each other’s temperament. It helps because you then know that this person needs space right now or this is when I need to go and talk to this person.

PK: We four are very different people. But the give-and-take of lines, the scenes that were put together, the shots that were written, were all so organic that by the time we started shooting, we had forgotten all our tensions or stress. Everybody wanted to give their best, so the give-and-take between the lines in the shots automatically helped each one blend seamlessly into the others’ space.

TP: Thankfully, the script was not set in stone, and full credit to the writers and the director for this. So, when we were rehearsing, the writers saw how we brought out own personalities into the characters and the dialogue, and they modified our lines accordingly. That helped us a lot.

BOI: What is each of you expecting from the film?

PK: The only thing I expect is that people should like our work, love our friendship and people find their own friends in us. If these things happen, then the film and we will be very successful. The final goal is that we want to become successful, hit hona hai and aur kaam karna hai. We want people from the industry to call us and tell us that they want to work with us. And this will only happen if the things that I mentioned above happen. People should identify with us.

SS: Honestly, I am a very go-with-the-flow kind of person, so I am not putting much pressure on myself but I definitely want to be better and keep learning. After this amazing beginning with Rajshri Productions, I want to keep working with more amazing people.

TP: Rajshri has given a platform for people to see us and our work. That definitely elevates us in terms of where the industry is. And I am very glad that I am already shooting for something else right now which is Nitesh Tiwari’s Chhichhore. I am hoping this film will take me in the right direction and bring better things my way.

AD: Well, Anshuman is hoping to get one million followers on Instagram (Laughs).

AM: One thing I expect from the audience is that they shouldn’t look at our faces and go for the film but watch it because of its story. And when they do that, maybe they will not love us but they will surely fall in love with the characters. As for myself, I expect to keep on doing good work, keep learning to be better.

AD: I think because we are in Box Office India, I can say that filmmaking is a big gamble. You never know what will work and what will not. So, what you expect is that however many people are watching the film, they should like it. I have seen people liking it in the trial shows. But when the film is in theatres and the audience comes out and says that they have liked it, it is the most important thing. And if box-office collections come with it, then nothing could be better. As I said, it is a gamble. I just want people to go watch the movie, if they like it then we will be very happy and if they don’t, we will try to make another film to make them happy.

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