Director Punit Malhotra shares a good working relation with Karan Johar. He started his career with KJo’s Kal Ho Na Ho as assistant director. His debut as a director was ‘I Hate Luv Storys’, his next film was ‘Gori Tere Pyaar Mein’ and now after a quite long gap he came with Karan’s Student Of The Year 2 which will release on this 10th May.
Q : Are you excited or nervous ?
Punit : Both. Very excited even more nervous together, excited because we have finished the first leg of promotion & I think we have put out some content in coming days you’ll see the second leg of promotions, the film has so much material that we are really excited to put it all out. In the coming days you’ll see lot of stuffs coming out so you know am excited to get all the feedback and hopefully everyone likes it.
Q: As you know there’s been some gap like your last film was in 2013, so what were you doing all these years ?
Punit : Yeah it’s been a long gap. I was doing lots of stuffs and to be honest the last one didn’t go really well so I got that much time to get out of that and later we had a script for student that we had written and we weren’t happy with it, so 3 months before we tried to pull the plug on it and eventually we went for a new draft. And tiger was on board even with an earlier film, so i think if everything would have gone right then the film might have released 2 years ago but this time the dates worked out, we’ve just pushed it up much but there’s been a lot of work that has happened in the last two years or in four years. We started a company called Dharma 2.0 were we got lot of ad films and in between that we wrote couple of scripts for SOTY, so hopefully around next time it wont be so long
Q: Who is getting more space in between two actress ?
Punit : No, strangely it was the only problem they didn’t have because when we were in Missouri I was like their is so much bonding between these two girls like they would sleep in each others room and go out for meal together, I used to find it very strange because I’ve always heard that two women or actresses are not getting along but these two were getting along like a house on fire so they were ganged up against Tiger and me a bit but a lot of time .
Q: When Gori tere pyaar me released, it got many mixed reviews and there were a lot of negative reviews as well, so did that effect you personally ?
Punit : Yes it did effect me personally . I was 8 months in my room feeling depressed and didn’t went out of my house but from that I realised that there is more choice and you just have to move ahead and you just have to try, understand and find out what your mistakes are and you have to comeback and fight towards that. So I think the last 4 years all I tried to do is trying to better my craft, trying to do as much as better from my end
Q: How are you taking memes related to your movie ?
Punit : I just love memes, not that you are asking but if there would be no memes on Student Of The Year 2 then I would be disheartened and SOTY is a film that you have to put on memes and its a film that is made for A certain audience, a certain age group, and this is the age group that makes those memes . If you don’t get memes related then there’s no fun of it and so many I saw just sitting and laughing where their is one meme like “our annual day vs their annual day”, “our school costumes vs their school costumes”. So there are lots of memes, and I love the fact that there is so much of buzz around it. It’s a film which deserves memes and once the film release it’s going to be 10 folds more.
Q: In the trailer we saw that Tiger’s character is thrown out of the school and then he makes a comeback and fights the baddies, So in this way do you think that it is more like a hero centric film?
Punit : It’s a story of a boy who realises his dreams but its not hero centric all the 4 characters including the antagonist, all of them have their own journeys in it, the girls have their own journey and both the girls have really interesting characters. We were conscious about the fact that we were launching two new girls so we couldn’t be unfair to any one of them and then there’s Tiger who is a star and you have to justify his star persona as well. So on every level I think these 3 characters are properly edged out and they have their own graph when they come together. The competition is kabaddi which is however with tiger which you’ll feel it and if not in a competition you’ll still see the graph be complete when you see the film
Q: How do you realise the fact that it’s unreal like what school is that and where all things are happening together?
Punit : I absolutely agree with that and even I would like to see that which school is it. There are schools like this in Bombay now but there are no colleges like this but definitely its unreal but I started by saying that what I am really excited about is that this is step 1 of the promotion, this is what we wanted to put out and what you’ll see in the next step of promotion will be the other side of the film. So there is a side which is unreal but there is also a side which is real and identifiable as well, so you’ll see both the sides and we’ve pitched you in a certain way and now we’ll stir into another direction. We have got many bad feedbacks that no students study in a school like that but those are all the things that we deliberately put out. Student of the year is not essentially a person who will sit out with his book open or Student of the year could be a student in a karate school, film school or a music school and those guys don’t have to be with open books. We as a country and genuinely need to promote sports so much more. I used to play a lot of sport but my parent removed me out of a football team and I feel like its a big mistake and now we need to push the students, like the girls who are great in dance or Tiger who is great in kabbadi are the student of the year.
Q: How did you selected the star cast as last time all 3 were new and this time both the girls are new?
Punit : I didn’t selected, Tiger selected us (laughs). Tiger is a star and in that sense we took the film to him. The most exciting thing in that Student of the year is a competition, it’s dance, sports you know Hindi film in that sense. Who but tiger could level up in terms of sports, even when we do a sport like kabaddi we rehearse for 2 months and I mean it 2 months flat out with the guys who do pro kabaddi, so tiger did take it to that level. In terms of dance, in terms of sports he was the best candidate to push and take it further and as far as the girls are concerned there was no nepotism. I know Bhavna and Chunky forever and I have never met Ananya. I’ve met Ananya through the casting director. I auditioned Tara & Ananya, I personally auditioned 10-15 girls and around 200 girls in totality & these are the girls we came down to and we have Ananya who is starrer and we also have Tara who is not a starrer, so it was an absolute fair play
Q: What was the fun or the nostalgic part as a sequel, what was that you really loved on the set or set direction ?
Punit : I think the fun was that I had to direct student of the yeah and the biggest challenging thing was to direct Student of the year which was directed by Karan, so you know I had to take that forward and the fun part was that a lot of things were taken for granted and when you see Student of the year Its audience perception that the film will be same as every time but to have the audience engaged in those parameters in those things that even though you know which zone the story will go into & still do something different within that, that is the challenging part. So Karan had set a benchmark that this is how a school is, this is how a college is and now in relation to that what we can do different is I think that was a big challenge
Q: So it is the movie about the students so according to your batchmates who was the most brilliant student, mischievous and the most obedient one
Punit: According to me Most brilliant would be Tiger , weather be shot at 4 or 5 in the morning and I can tell you that he used to be 1 hour before that in the Gym and now you know he is tiger Shroff and he is on top of game, we all had to get up and be there. We shot some of action scenes in Thailand also and there also he used to take the choreographer and assistant also after the whole day of shoot & now if he did that then the girls also had to do it, he was definitely the most Brilliant student. And both the girls were both obedient and mischievous as well. Tara does the act of being obedient but she is not actually and Ananya is mischievous for sure. So you give her an instructions and she will also nod at you and make big eyes like Puneet has gone mad, what is he talking, just don’t listen to anything he says.
Q: Alia is making a cameo in a song, So did you thought of bringing Varun & Siddharth also in a Song or a Cameo ?
Punit : Yes, the idea was to have everybody but you know the dates and the logistics didn’t work out. What worked really is that Alia managed to do it. I was damn excited to have her on board Tiger was very excited. It’s a fun situation in the film and we’ve kind of left it with a question mark So I am hoping that something comes from this also and the song on its own is really exciting because Farah choreographed it and we were on set for 4 days and apart from dancing there was a lot of fun happening on set, there is lot of action happened in this song, so when you will see the whole song you’ll get a sense of that.
Q: What is the difference between Karan’s school and Punit’s school ?
Punit : Karan’s school is a part of SOTY 2 and that’s for sure and that’s the rich school, and my poor schools are there along with it. He(Karan’s) is taking his school further and taking that same thought further and Karan’s school was very very glamorous and we are little less glamorous in that sense but its his school as well. Very honestly when I started the film, we had different locations in mind so we wanted to put out the school in different space but we thought why can we not give it a feel of the first one, lets give it some kind of a recall value and it will be nostalgic. So when you’ll see the film may be in a little bit music peace here and there also you’ll connect with it in many ways. So we kept the part of the school but we’ve not kept the same characters like the principle is different, the coaches are different, the students are different, so we have some glimpse of the SOTY 1 but its not the exactly same film.
Q. How thrilled were you when Will Smith came on-board?
Punit – We got a call randomly saying that Will Smith has this show named Bucket list and he is gonna be here so we said great. But it was not sure whether it was happening or not happening and than they tell us one day that this is going to happen so start preparing yourself. So everyone prepared dance and Will Smith came in. When he walked on set, he is just the most positive guy. Most really funny thing on the set was like Remo was the choreographer and we just got 5-7 mins to shoot our beat and something happened so I said cut ran up on the stage and gave some instructions to Will Smith and it was very weird instructions. After the shot Tiger came to me and said you realise what you just did? I said what than he reminded me saying you just directed Will Smith. I was suprised on myself and I was like yeah that’s true. It was quite fun.
Q. Harsh Beniwal the YouTube sensation is in the film so how the idea of casting him came up?
Punit – I had no idea that he is a YouTube sensation. We got bunch of auditions and this whole film is based in North India, so the casting director had auditioned lot of people from Delhi. I saw the auditions and I really liked this guy, I said he is good actor lets work with him. He came to Bombay and we used to treat him like a normal guy. One day he came up to me and said sir mujhe bhi apna launch karna hai, I was clueless like what he is talking about than someone told me he has got his YouTube page, I died when I realized how big he is. The first day when our trailer released on YouTube there were 19k comments and half of them were for Harsh so I was like ok so this guy is very big. We casted him on the independent fact that he is YouTube sensation. To his credits he is too sweet for being the guy he is, he is very chilled out and humble.
Q. What’s next after Student Of The Year 2?
Punit – I don’t know, right now all the energy is into student, I have plans I want to do some stuffs.
Q. How was it directing Tiger?
Punit – Ohh it was great fun because I didn’t know what energy would be but I was amazed to see how prepared he was.
Q. As a director what is your goal or dream project?
Punit – I think I need to gear up on my speed of making films for sure (Laughs). In next couple of year I want to make an action film, I am really looking forward to it, we have something going on and hopefully will make that really soon.
Interview by Rupal Purohit