I am not gifted at writing, says Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani writer
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When I met director Ayan Mukerji for the first time, I told him honestly ki mujhe writing nahin aati hai, I'm an actor. It was my actor friend ali Fazal who put me in touch with Ayan who was looking for a dialogue writer for Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (YJHD). I had no hope of getting this film and actually used to think that if I write, it will be for a gangster film. For all the appreciation that I'm getting for YJHD, I'd like to say that a lot of it is Ayan. he let me say what I wanted to.
Just like Bunny's story (played by Ranbir Kapoor), this film has been a personal journey for me. The guiding principle while writing the film was that we had to keep our characters real. Ayan was clear that he wanted them to sound like ordinary people and whenever the characters talk, it should be like a normal conversation. The audience should not feel ki yaar aisi baatein toh hum nahin karte. Ayan had written Bunny and Naina so precisely that I just followed his vision. Some of the buzzwords that helped me define Bunny in my head were — "young", "doesn't want commitment", "relatable", "optimistic", "dreamer". For Naina, the words were — "goodness", "purity", "cleanliness", "wisdom", "mature". The film's wisdom came from Naina and the energy was from Bunny. While Bunny is a seeker, Naina is also very happy with her life — it's not as if she's resigned to it but she doesn't romanticise life like Bunny. The basic idea of the film and their relationship is like ki tum sahi nahin ho…bas mujhse alag ho.
Through the writing process and the drafts, Ayan and I kept tinkering with the lines and scenes till we were sure. We were certain that the dialogues of the film should not have a "translated" feel to them. It's kind of a joke that we all think in English but we make Hindi movies. We consciously thought of Hindi lines. Ultimately, the audience can make out if it's a translated thought — jisko Hindi samajh mein aati hai usko dialogues khatakte hain. While writing the humorous lines was easy — like "Abbe Border ke Sunny Deol, yeh sangeet hai nach Baliye nahin," the tough parts were cracking the heartfelt bits. There's a fine line between sounding cheesy and poetic and we had to maintain it. We were clear that hum jitna seedha bolenga utna poetic hoga. as long as the thought is imaandaar and mazboot, we can figure out the wordplay. While I could get into Bunny, Naina, Aditi and Avi's heads, the toughest character to crack was Bunny's father played by Farooque Sheikh. The age that we are in, this relationship has thoda pyaar and thoda jhagda… hum sab apne fathers se lade hue hain. even the Rooh afza joke that we incorporated was to make the family relationships believable. every family has a running joke. The idea came from Ayan who said that there are some things in life that will never change no matter what you do. In this context, Bunny ki duniya badal gayi, baap marr gaya, ladka badal gaya lekin Rooh Afza nahin badla.
The response to YJHD has been overwhelming. it's way beyond my expectations. I'm writing the dialogues for Two States and Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK's next with Saif ali Khan. I'm also acting in Shonali Bose's Margarita with a Straw with Kalki Koechlin. I'd like to act and write. Since I'm naturally not gifted at writing, acting gives me the motivation to write. and I can do with all the motivation that I can get.