Kulwinder caught up with Dubai-born Indian filmmaker Japinder Baweja, taking about her debut film 'Zaalim Dilli' which has special appearances by Yo Yo Honey Singh, Alfaaz, Dr Zeus, Jazzy B and Hard Kaur in music videos!
Hey Japinder, how you doing?
Very well, thank you!
Firstly, Congratulations on your first long debut film, it’s great having a young female doing such a great job! How have you become a director at such a young age?
Thank you. It’s great when people tell me that I have achieved something at a young age, however, I feel the journey has been pretty long and I have actually been working towards it since years.
I’m born and brought up in Dubai and infact took a longer detour because I started off with television; as films were not big in Dubai till a few years back. When I was in Grade 9 (14 years old), I remember I had gone to the Zee Tv office with my mom in Dubai to meet a friend and understand if I could start part time work for experience as a I was confident enough that I could handle things on my own and it was time to start gaining some experience and contacts. The Head of Programming at the time said, “Oh you are too small, too young, you have a lot of years to go and you do not need to start any experience now.”
After that meeting, my mom told me that don’t listen to anyone, always do what you want to because the same people will first say its too early and few years later might say oh it’s too late. I agree with that and always feel one should start off as early as their confidence permits them to start.
I interned during school and college with as many channels, directors and production houses as I could, which is very important because that’s the time you do not care about finances and can concentrate on only learning without any stress. After which I went to film school for 2 years, made a couple of short films and assisted directors like Prakash Jha after which I started working on my own film.
You can say even to crack it young, I have been working towards it since about 10 years ☺
So tell us a little about the film, how did you come up with the story?
I always thought about making something with social relevance and not just about relationships (I’d do that sometime later perhaps). The film highlights a lot about daily car thefts that are going on in Delhi where cars get stolen and then their colour, number plates etc are changed and sold as used second hand cars. I have known people who have faced such situations and after that there is no tracing back in India, once something is gone, its gone!
The hard work behind earning a car, the feelings attached, the financial hit etc are all taken for a toss. The story was based on 2 such friends who buy the car to impress a girl the hero loves and how everything goes for a toss from there and what they do to reach the criminals and get the car back. There are layers of true friendship, social crime, thug businessmen, love that’s materialistic; and love that is true and grows with time weaved into the film.
What genre is the film?
Drama and family comedy.
How long has the production taken?
From the time we started working on the script till the release was about 25 months honestly. We shot for about 2 months, but getting the script, pre-production, logistics, music, post production, release and marketing plan; all took lots of time and effort.
Who are we expecting to see in the film?
The film stars, Divyendu Sharma (Chashme Badoor and Pyar Ka Punchnama fame), Jackie Shroff, Ira Dubey (Aisha), Pradhuman Singh (Osama from Tere Bin Laden), Prachi Mishra (Miss India Earth 2012).
The film also has special appearances by Yo, Yo Honey Singh, Alfaaz, Dr Zeus, Jazzy B and Hard Kaur in music videos.
Tell us about the music, you have added the Punjabi touch by featuring Dr.Zeus and Miss Pooja on the soundtrack. Tipsy Hogai- is already being repeated all over the media platforms!
There are 9 songs in Dilliwaali Zaalim Girlfriend, that range from romantic, separation, pain, club bangers, dancing foot tappers, religious, and fun loving Delhite songs. Each song was picked with utmost emotional care according to the situations. We have almost 4 songs with a very good Punjabi touch to them; Tipsy Hogai, Janib, Zaalim Dilli and Tere Liye.
Tipsy Hogai is a very special song to us and close to my heart. The music video is shot at my house in Dubai and we had a great time making the song as well as the video for it. The music is edgy, upbeat and very very groovy.
Any song that changes your chemistry while listening to it is a good song. The film overall follows a northern flavour which was kept intact with the songs as well.
Bollywood since time immemorial loves to portray Punjabi flavour whether it is in the expansive scenic ways of Yash Raj or today’s realism like in Dilliwaali Zaalim Girlfriend.
Would you ever consider making Punjabi films?
I would love to; but I’m a little weak with fluent Punjabi and very comfortable with Hindi. When I will improve my Punjabi properly I will surely make a Punjabi film too.
How are you feeling for the release of the film?
There is a lot of stress throughout the procedure of making the film and while releasing it as well. So after all that, I’m just trying to enjoy the moment finally and let it flow as is. I’m feeling good that all my family and friends will be watching what I’ve been working on since a long time and waiting to hear from the audience what their response is.
Who is the film aimed towards?
The film is targeted towards families and youngsters between the age group 15-35.
The title of the film is quirky. Who suggested the title?
The title was suggested by the producer Tarnpreet. We brainstormed a lot because the title has to justify all elements of the film; the genre should be clear and catchy. Dilliwaali Zaalim Girlfriend was the perfect title that described the root cause of the story, character, and quirky feel of the film.
Have you had difficulties during the making?
Each day is a challenge while making a Bollywood film. The creative part of it is very satisfying, but making a film with so many people over a long span of time with all logistics put together is quite a challenge. You are running against time and money each minute. To not let any ends lose and to carry of the film tightly from all aspects can indeed be very tricky at times.
What limitations does a director have, are you just a director or are you doing other jobs too? Such as editing etc.
The director is pretty much doing everything. It is also important to be doing everything. However, I know some people love to look at it in a way that a director does nothing and only commands everybody else.
Right from the first word of the script, even if a writer is on board, the directors work never stops because eventually the script has to be completely embedded inside you even if someone else has written it. The director is involved in every workshop/rehearsal of the actor because you have to get the right performance out.
The director cannot be aloof with production because you have to dictate and decide the look, timelines, costumes, art, locations and everything with your aesthetics. The process goes on from editing to every supporting artist dubbing to colour correction and every detail. All departments might come do their job and go, but a director and producer work on every job from the first day till the last day.
It is also important for the director to know all aspects like editing, sound design, music, colour grading etc themselves for optimum and satisfactory results.
If you could add or change something about the film, what would it be?
Any art entity can be looked back at and felt maybe this could have been like this or like that. That’s art for you. It’s a never-ending process and you can always keep feeling that something could have been improved. Even if it is a masterpiece, the makers always feel scope for improvement.
You have made 3 shorts films and this is your first international debut, are you somewhat nervous? How has the experience been?
Yes, I’m a little nervous and have butterflies in my stomach. The experience has been very enriching. I feel I have lived a lifetime in these 2 years. There is just so much learning, experience and effort that goes into a film that looking back I feel it’s been very enriching.
Is it easy to make Bollywood films? What advice would you give to new film makers?
It’s very tough. You will face the opposite of all that you might expect to face. There is no formula, no rules, no guidelines.
I’m writing a book called, “How to make your first Bollywood film?” The book will be a great starting point for all new film makers. It will cover all logistics that film schools never speak of. The star system, PR, marketing, distribution, exhibition, egoist people, finances etc.
Have you thought about future projects yet?
Yes, a lot of them are in the pipeline. We will be making the next film in Dubai and I’m also completing my book at the moment.
Would you consider acting yourself?
lol, I need an audience opinion for that. Too many people have asked me this but I’m not sure yet.
Thank you and all the best
Thank you to SimplyBhangra.com supporting the movie and to all the viewers, go and enjoy the movie!
Interview done by Kulwinder Kaur Kainth