Shaad Ali
Writer and Director known for Bunty Aur Bubly and Jhoom Barabar Jhoom

There is a shift from song to action sequences. What was required for big songs is today required for big action scenes. I think there are about five big action films being made in a year… The music scene has changed… The way song and music are approached is not by having an album. They just take one song, whether it’s a remix or the original. They probably need one song for the promotions and one song for the films, and the rest can just play in the background. So films don’t need to go (abroad) for songs so much anymore.

Actually Jhoom Barabar Jhoom was a very small film set in Delhi station at one point, called Sangam Mail. They were waiting for this train to come. The train used to run between Delhi and Allahabad. Once Bunty aur Babli happened, I was done with the heartland business. So then I was in the mood to shift the film it to London. We took the story to London and shot at the Waterloo train station. Once the story was transported, it became easy to tweak. Then the lies that they were cooking up about the places there lent themselves to this whole thing. The story about Lady Diana and all that… The essence of it is still two people sitting at a railway station and chatting with each other, which can happen anywhere in the world… Since Lady Diana was a part of the story, and since she last stayed at The Ritz in Paris, the story went there. We automatically went to Paris and ended up doing a song there.

I had no clue. I had never been to London in my life. So when we reached, they told me that the station I liked was the busiest in the whole of Europe. The thing that worked for me was that it has a coffee shop on a height, from where I could look at the station and how busy it was. Then I said I don’t want any other station but this one now. So with great difficulty, they said yes.

For Soorma, it was pure economics because we were on a very tight budget. But the requirement we had for this rehabilitation centre was very important. And Belgrade has one of the best in the world. It’s for Olympians and all that. So it was really elaborate. And it was cinematic to look at, too. And it has the Novi Sad palace, and that fort could be the exterior of it… The original one where Sandeep Singh went was not such a great looking one. The shooting of Jhoom Barabar Jhoom changed the way I looked at filmmaking, scheduling, and working.

Because Jhoom Barabar Jhoom’s locations were knitted into the film, they (music team) knew what the locations were. The lyrics have “No mo, Monsieur!”. So it’s there with Gulzar and Shankar Ehsaan Loy. They know where we’re setting the song and what the sound of the song should be. I finish my music way before I start my film. My music is interwoven into the film completely. Gulzaar Saab is involved right from the time the script is finished.

The earth of that place has to feel right for the story. Whether you cook it up or whether you make a set, you can do whatever you want… I’m very happy to be in the world of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, because he has taken me into that world from frame one. Then I’m married to that world. I don’t think of it as anything else, because I know nothing else beyond that world. I’m very in that world. But if I’m not, I’ll find it very difficult to breathe the film… For me, it is an extension of the story. So I need the story to marry in the right place to feel right… The second layer is when it’s not meant to be placed realistically but imaginatively, and then it has to feel right on other levels as well. This is where my imagination also takes that film. And it doesn’t mean from here to the moon or anything… I feel like I should set this film not in Jabalpur but in Kanpur because of just the lake itself or something like that. I need some element to latch on to, which is cinematic.

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