Editing is considered as one of the prime aspects of filmmaking. While the director makes it, the vision of the director and the editor go hand in hand to make the film like what it should be. One such editor is Akiv Ali who after having edited 35 films in his career, some of them being big films like ‘Pyaar Ka Punchnama’ and ‘Brothers’ has decided to foray into the art of direction with his debut film as a director, ‘De De Pyaar De’ starring Ajay Devgn,Tabu and Rakul Preet. To talk more on it, Akiv gets candid in his conversation with CineSpeaks and takes us through his impeccable journey.
Q) So Akiv, did being an editor help while shooting? Like could you shoot limited scenes to lessen the task?
Akiv – Well there’s one thing which I have realized after becoming a director. It is not easy all. So after becoming a director, I have understood how it is. It is a totally different ball game altogether. It’s a defined and separate art on it’s own.
Q) Tell us a bit about the story?
Akiv – The story is exactly what you saw in the trailer. They all play their age characters. They meet and then fall in love and then he decides to take her to meet his family. It’s the fun and madness after that. What he thought to be a real simple and normal thing ends up being something totally else. It’s a fun take!
Q) Did you have any inspiration while doing it?
Akiv – No not any inspiration in particular. The inspiration is from ‘Reality’. You have a lot of dynamic relationships today. Relationships are evolving today. It seemed very quirky.
Q) How did you decide to come to direction?
Akiv – Actually I didn’t decide to come to direction. Somehow ‘main aa gaya’. Even editing was something I didn’t decide to do. Mahesh Bhatt sir was very dear to my father. He was one who had first said that if I wanted to try editing. Now at that time, it was more of a getaway from my parents so that I didn’t face questions like ‘What do you want to do in life?’ from my parents. So, I did it. But I had no idea.The first time I went to an editing studio, I felt like I came to ‘Star wars set’. There were two computers and that felt wow. So slowly over the years it happened and I learnt. And I think..I started and kept working and enjoyed. I was never a writer. Luv Ranjan pushed me a lot. One day, he came to me and said that he will keep giving me content and I can do what I want to. So then he came up to me and said that this is the concept, this is the set up.. ‘Isko karte hai’.
Q) You are making your debut with such a big star in the form of Ajay Devgn. How does it feel?
Akiv – I would consider myself very lucky because I had Ajay Devgn and Tabu in the same film and not just same, but also in the first time. Two glorious actors who brought in so much of positivity and good energy during the preparation of the film. So it couldn’t be better. Also as a company, we didn’t make anything this big before.So them being supportive and carrying the ship forward along with us, it was big in that way as well. Even Rakul Preet so to say. She is experienced in her own right and has done good work in the south. Together, it was a joyful ride.
Q) Whose decision was it to cast Ajay and Tabu?
Akiv – I think the idea to cast Tabu was a unanimous one. I mean for that character and that age group, it has to be Tabu. It’s a no brainer. As far as Ajay sir is considered, it was Luv’s idea. Ajay sir has a very positive and easy going vibe around him and hence he fitted into the character perfectly. Also Luv had met him couple of times before and had interacted with him so that’s how he came in.
Q) How did Rakul Preet come in?
Akiv – Well it’s really interesting. We both were once going to like the same place and hence we had thought of meeting up. Me and my creative director, Rahul Modi, we both were there and we had met her for 15 mins and then it was over. There was no discussion about the project ever. We just met. We thought she had good energy and seemed positive. But that was over that day.
Four months later, Luv suddenly comes up to me and says ‘Bhai humlog toh heroine ko cast karna hi bhul gaye.. ‘ At that point of time, what struck my mind was Rakul’s name. So I spoke about it to Luv and told him that we will meet her and then do a photoshoot.. Luv said not to waste time and directly do a photoshoot. So we did it. We liked it and that’s how she came on board. It’s really interesting. Hahaha!
Q) What’s your take on the music of the film?
Akiv – I really like it to be honest. It’s high quality and every song there in the film is for a reason. Some of the songs are either character based or it’s either situation based. So it’s really nice and hope you like it as well.
Q) You have only edited this film right?
Akiv – Yes I have. ‘Sab cut kar diya maine’ hahaha!
Q) Which are the places where you shot?
Akiv – UK, Manali and also in Mumbai. We had 2 sets in Mumbai. Matlab pehli film ke hisab se bohot zyada shooting kar li hai.
Q) So you will continue to edit as well?
Akiv – Yes why not. See, if things fall into place, I might not be editing as much as I used to do. I will be directing and working on my next then. But then I will continue. Luv is making his next. My creative director and producer, they are making their next as well and I will be editing all of them. Humaara aisa hi hone wala hai.. Sab apne aap mein hi edit aur direct karte rahenge. Hahaha!
Q) Has the film been narrated in a linear way or a non linear way?
Akiv – Absolutely linear. Already bohot experiment ho gaya script aur content ko leke. Issliye picture humne socha ki seedhi hi bana dete hai.
Q) Do you believe that an editor is the director in the editing table?
Akiv – See, a lot has to do on the perspective. I remember during Pyaar ka Punchnama 2,I was busy with Brothers. Hence once it was edited, Luv came to me and was like this needs to work and be changed hence. I said okay fine. Mujhe 2 weeks de. Main kar dunga. But these 2 weeks, you don’t come to the editing table at all. Hahah. He listened and he didn’t come. He had no idea what was happening to his film. He trusted me entirely. Then later when he saw it, he was like superb and wonderful. We are good to go after 2-3 minor changes. So that’s what. The perspectives need to match.
Q) In how many days did you complete the shoot?
Akiv – Well this is a thing between me and the producer. I never asked him and he never told me. But I guess around 75-80 days which is too much for a first time film director. I must have been a badly behaved one.
Q) Recently in almost all the films, the women characters have been really strong. Is it the same in this?
Akiv – Yes, both the women characters are really strong. You will realize that too when you watch the movie. Even though Luv has an image of being a ‘misogynist’, you will find that the women characters in this film are stronger. It’s a modern take on relationships and the structure of relationships. There’s a lot of fun amd comedy as well.
Q) Who are your major influences?
Akiv – Yaar, mere influences thode twisted hai. Subhash Ghai, Christopher Nolan, Stephen Spielberg. I don’t have any influences as such to be honest. But I just like good cinema and enjoy it. But haan, agar if I get to do even half of what these people have done, shayad zindagi mein kuch na kuch ho jayega.
Q) Lastly, who is your target audience for this film?
Akiv – I feel everyone to be honest. The young ones will enjoy it as well and so will the ones above 50. Shayad for them it might be like a ‘tadka’ where they feel ki ‘Aree aisa bhi ho sakta hai kya? ‘ .Hahaha! But it’s a film made for everyone and I hope everyone likes and enjoys it.
BY SUBHOJIT GHOSH.