Saket Chaudhary, Writer-Director

Saket ChoudharyIt’s not easy to write and direct a romantic comedy. Saket Chaudhary, Writer-Director, hit the bull’s eye with his very first movie, Pyar Ke Side Effects. In conversation with Yourstory, he talks about the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of the fable that is Bollywood and why he was almost named Vijay.

  • Choosing a career in Bollywood- How difficult it was? Tell us something about your family background, educational background. When did you decide to wield the microphone?

A substantial amount of my school years and college was spent in Delhi. My family was a typical upper middle class set up. So even though I was always writing and putting up plays in school and college my aspirations were normal middle class aspirations, a degree in engineering and then a job. But then during my second year of doing Physics (Hons) I realized that chasing these aspirations was never going to satisfy me and maybe I should do something I enjoy. At that time I targeted broadly being in the media, advertising not feature films. Bollywood seemed too distant. And so I started applying to Mass Communication Courses and got admission EMRC, Pune University. That’s where I got exposed to international cinema and different aspects of film-making. It shifted my focus from being a copy writer to being a film-maker. But I still had advertising in mind not features. So I joined a production house as an Assistant Director. But along with that I continued writing, small TV shows and then decided to give one shot at feature films. I joined Aziz Mirza as an Assistant Director on his feature ”Phir Bhi Dil Hain Hindustani’. I also actively worked on the script which got me noticed by Santosh Sivan, who was the DOP (Director of Photography) on the film. He offered me ‘Asoka’ to write. After that I was hooked. I wanted to make feature films

  • How did you get your first project?

My first writing project I’ve already explained. My first directing project happened after taking ‘PKSE’ around for two years to different actors and producers. Rahul Bose said yes and he got me in touch with PNC and the film happened

  • What’s your thought process behind selecting a story for making film?

The idea should appeal to me in the sense that it shows me something about life, about people, about the world that I never realized before 

  • Pyar Ke Side Effects was youth centric aimed at multiplexes? Do small budget films need to be youth-centric to do well at the box-office?

All films have to be youth centric these days. They are the ones who have disposable incomes and frequent theatres the most

  • Canning the first shot as a director- Please narrate the experience

I don’t remember it exactly. I had been directing TV shows before my first feature so it wasn’t particularly special. Another day at the office I guess.

  • The good, the bad, and the ugly of bollywood based on your experience as a Director

The good is that you do something you enjoy, nothing can match that pleasure. The bad is that there is no sense of security; writing and directing are the loneliest professions in the world. The ugly is that people here post rationalize other people’s success and try to manipulate you into replicating it. 

  • Tips to a first-time director- Pitfalls he should avoid

Make a film about something you know intimately

  • Your future projects

Immediately Shaadi Ke Side Effects should be my next film

  • Personalities from world/Indian cinema who have been a major influence

Mani Ratnam is a major influence. ‘Roja’ brought me back to the theatres to watch a Hindi film. ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ by Farhan Akhtar gave me the courage to write ‘Pyar Ke Side Effects’. Milos Foreman’, Woody Allen, Scorsese, Kubrick are other very prominent influences

  • Favourite movies/screen icons

Al Pacino. He is a true star. As a kid it was Amitabh Bachchan. I used to wish my parents had named me ‘Vijay’. Thank God they had better sense