‘A good director is one who can tell a great story’

Debarati Palit
Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Vikram Phadnis, who is making his directorial debut, says inviting SRK, Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya for the various launches of his Marathi film wasn’t a marketing gimmick.

Vikram Phadnis, who is making his directorial debut, says inviting SRK, Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya for the various launches of his Marathi film wasn’t a marketing gimmick.

Vikram Phadnis is one of the most respected names in the fashion industry and last year, he completed 25 years in the business. The celebrated designer is now embarking on a new career. He is directing a Marathi film titled Hrudayantar. Vikram, along with his producer Purvesh Sarnaik and actors Subodh Bhave, Mukta Barve, Trushnika Shinde, Nishtha Vaidya, Sonali Khare and Ameet Khedekar, visited Sakal Times office to promote the film, which releases on July 9. It is an emotional drama and Vikram says that everyone will be able to connect with the story. Excerpts from his interview: 

Were you always inclined towards direction? 
For the last 12 or 13 years, I have been interested in direction. The inclination has always been there. It’s a natural growth and I had not thought about it. Like I did not get into fashion thinking I will get into it. My parents were doctors and I am a student of medicine. The same was with direction. After 25 years, I wanted to be the captain of the ship and not remain a technician. Also, I could not bank on someone else for the story because I wanted it to be my baby, so I wrote the film myself.    

You had announced your debut film Nia in 2014 with Bipasha Basu but the film got shelved. Was it frustrating waiting to start your film? 
Completely, and I cannot forget that phase for the rest of my life. I still remember my office was filled with assistants who were busy with the pre-production of the film. Then suddenly everything came crashing down for various reasons. The next day the entire office was empty as I had to lay off everyone. Bipasha and I were really upset. When frustration sets in you realise that the fight is even more stronger and bigger. It took me a couple of months to recover. I was so scattered, I didn’t know how to attend parties and face people who would ask me: ‘When is your film starting?’. How would I tell them that my film had been shelved. I had no answers to those questions. That one year was tough.  

How did the shift from directing a Bollywood film to a Marathi film happen? 
I am not ashamed to say that my career as a director wasn’t taking off. Then one day, Karan Johar and Abbas Mastan separately told me, “If something hasn’t happened so far, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen ever.’ Abbas Mustan further said that Hrudayantar was a great script and I should start fresh and make the film in my mother tongue (Marathi). During an award ceremony, I also shared my story idea with Riteish Deshmukh and he too told me that it was meant for Marathi film audience which is considered wise and intelligent. So, I rewrote the script not knowing a single person in Marathi film industry or their talent. I had just heard the names. I have come to believe that when you dream, nothing is unachievable. 

What was the inspiration behind the story of Hrudayantar? 
When I was writing it, I knew that people will not come to the theatre to watch Vikram Phadnis, the fashion designer. They will come if I can tell them a story. I believe that a good director is one who can tell a great story. I have zero technical knowledge, I haven’t assisted anybody nor have I been to a film school. Just watching my artists, I have learnt on the set. They come with so much knowledge. When it comes to fashion designing too, I didn’t go to a school and till today, I can’t sketch and I have completed 25 years. I think I have the power to communicate and skill to interpret a vision. I also believe that my work has taught me a lot more. 

The sensibilities of Marathi film audience is different from that of Bollywood. Did you have to change your style keeping in mind their sensibilities? 
My mother is a Gujarati and father a Marathi and I went to an English-medium school. But from 3-18 years of age, we had to go to Dinanath Mangeshkar Natya Griha Hall and Shivaji Mandir. After that everything changed just like it happens with others. I haven’t watched a single Marathi film in 22 years but in the last three weeks, I have watched three. Everyone I met in the industry have praised the trailer of Hrudayantar and welcomed me with open arms. It doesn’t matter if the film is commercially successful or not but I am happy that I met some great people. 

After being an expert in a particular field and then moving into something new, you are bound to make mistakes and learn. What has been your biggest learning from this film? 
I have made mistakes every single day. It happens with my fashion line too. It happens so many times that you work on something and it doesn’t work out and you fall flat on your face. There is no formula for success and I always go by my instincts. I have always caught on the ropes while doing a work. I learn, fall and get up and again, move ahead. While making Hrudayantar, I have learnt at every stage. Be it my editor, music director, VFX person... I didn’t give the liberty to anyone to sit and work alone. All along I was  with them because I wanted to learn. But the one thing that I have learnt the most is managing people. Earlier, I could manage 50, now I can manage 200. The most important job while making a film is to keep the unit together. 

Shah Rukh Khan gave the mahurat clap, Hrithik Roshan launched the trailer and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan launched the music trailer. Was all this to grab eyeballs for the film?    
When Gauri and Shah Rukh moved to Mumbai, I was with them because Gauri was my model. I filled Aishwarya’s form when she was going to participate in Miss India. These are the relationships that I have made in the last 30 years. When I have a party at home, what is the use if I don’t invite my friends. I wanted to celebrate every moment of Hrudayantar. They came because they were happy for me. I also agree that I wouldn’t be able to create the platform that these three have given for the film. Team Hrudayantar can never forget that. But the intention wasn’t to grab eyeballs.  I am trying to tell an emotional story and gimmicks will not make my film work.

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