Shashank Khaitan’s Dhadak is one of the highly anticipated films of Bollywood, releasing July 20. Why? Because the film is launching not one but two star kids — Janhvi (Boney Kapoor and the late Sridevi’s daughter) and Ishaan Khatter (Shahid Kapoor’s half-brother). Also, the film is the Hindi adaptation of Nagraj Manjule’s 2016 hit Marathi film Sairat.
Ask Shashank did he feel any pressure to remake Sairat considering the film is one of the biggest hits of the Marathi film industry and he says, “The pressure was to make a good film. I wanted to adapt it in my own way where I wanted to express my story. The focus was on a good screenplay and best acting. It was not so much a pressure but a responsibility because I was making a film which is so loved. I did not want it to be a frivolous expression. We were focused on telling a story in the most honest way rather than burdening ourselves with the thought that we were adapting such a popular film.”
About the storytelling styles of Nagraj and his, Shashank says, “It’s for the audience to see. I believe that I have told the story in a very unique, and my own way. Of course, I have taken the best of Sairat and everything that touched my heart. The whole idea of officially adapting a movie is to take the best and yet give it your own touch, which I have done.”
Starry treatment to star kids?
Launching two star kids is not easy and Shashank may have had to give special attention to them. But he disagrees. “I have got responsibility towards every actor who has worked in the film. I actually tried to treat them in the same manner. In fact, I told Ishaan and Janhvi, ‘Do not take any kind of pressure. Just act well and completely understand and surrender to the character’,” says the director who has given two hit films — Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Badrinath Ki Dulhania — in the past.
Does he think that the younger generation, who believes in instant love and break-ups and shares news of their heartbreaks on social media, will connect with the idea of eternal love promoted in Dhadak? “Whatever generation we belong to, we all are looking for true love. The medium may change, you may meet people on different platforms and places, but I don’t think anyone who says, ‘I love you’ to a person, hopes that they will break off one day,” he says, adding, “I think there is a common emotion about love, and people want to be loved and express love. That remains the same across regions, which was one of the reasons why Sairat was such a big success.”
Shashank further mentions that they are telling a story which is happening in India. “Whether it’s a conflict between families or conflicts based on caste or religion, such things still exist in our country and they happen in large numbers. As long as we tell a story which is happening, it’s relevant,” he says.
Dhadak is produced by Karan Johar. Sharing how much the celebrated filmmaker has brought to the table, Shashank says, “The biggest advantage is that Karan waits for you to give a narration of the script and he shares the feedback. Then he sees the film when it’s presented to him. He doesn’t come in during the shooting as he says, ‘It’s your movie and you need to take decisions’. Of course, he is there to guide you whenever you have doubts. During the making of Dhadak, he did not put any kind of pressure on me saying, ‘I am launching Srideviji’s daughter’. That’s one of the reasons why he is such an amazing producer.”
Shashank has worked with Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt when they were new in the industry and now with Janhvi and Ishaan. He feels that working with new actors gives an advantage. “They have time for you and they are ready to surrender and work with you in building the character. The comfort which you build along the way really helps you on set because when you trust each other endlessly, you go out there to collectively make a good movie,” says Shashank.
A new chapter
It’s not just Dhadak that is keeping him busy but the director, along with Madhuri Dixit and Tushar Kalia, is also judging Colors TV dance reality show Dance Deewane. And he seems to be enjoying this new role. “I am simply loving it because I have a background in dance and it’s something I enjoy. I have taken training in dance for many years and have taught too,” he says. He adds that he loves the whole aspect of Bollywood song and dance sequences.
With a background in dance, is his focus more on the technical aspect then? “That’s for Madhuriji and Tushar but I focus on how entertaining it is and whether the performance touches my heart or not,” he adds.
The director is super excited to collaborate with Madhuri on the show and says like everyone else he too is a huge fan of the Dil To Pagal Hai actress. “It’s a dream come true. I always wanted to work with her. She is not just a great dancer and actor but you get to learn so much from her. She is so professional, focused and committed,” Shashank says before signing off.