Main Tera Hero is my cleanest film: Milap Zaveri
Be it pun intended gags in Masti and Grand Masti, or dialogue-baazi in Kaante and Shootout At Wadala, coming up with lines and acts in either premises is a piece of cake for Milap Zaveri. But some things aren’t so easy. On the release of his latest gag-a-thon, Main Tera Hero, the writer-director comes clean on everything related to scriptwriting in the Hindi film industry.
What brief did director David Dhawan give you for the dialogues for Main Tera Hero?
It’s a David Dhawan film, so there’s a certain responsibility to get his sense of humour and keep in mind that Varun has a very youth audience. So the film had to have a lingo that youngsters speak, as well as the quintessential elements of a David Dhawan film. It (writing dialogues) was tough, ‘coz I just delivered Grand Masti. Sex comedies are easier to write. It’s easier to shock someone. But to be funny without being funny or vulgar is more difficult. Main Tera Hero is the cleanest film I have written in years. Both my last films that were big hits, Grand Masti and Shootout At Wadala, were A-certificate films. So here, Davidji would keep saying don’t be vulgar, be funny, be cool, be young, be fresh, but don’t be vulgar. So that was the brief given to me. And it was fun.
Did you go on the sets while the film was being shot?
Not often. A few times I did visit when something was required. But as a policy, I don’t go on set every day. One, it takes away a lot of your time so you can’t do other work. Second, if the writer is idle on the set, then a lot of actors and directors will feel the need to change something. So it’s always better to stick to what’s on paper, which has been agreed upon before the shoot.
How much time did you take to write the dialogues of Main Tera Hero?
We (screenplay writer Tusshar Hiranandani and him) started working from the first half onwards. I think I took a month to finish the first half. Then we had discussions. I re-did a few portions and did the second half. The process went on for 3-4 months. Meanwhile as Davidji was shooting, if he felt something, he would tell me. A lot of times when you make the shoot schedule, you relook at the scenes and feel that it can be bettered. So the writing process goes on in any film till release.
Main Tera Hero’s screenplay writer, Tusshar Hiranandani, and you have a long standing partnership since Masti. What makes the two of you click as a team?
Tusshar and I have a husband-wife like relationship (laughs). It’s been almost 14 years since we have been partners. We even meet socially, and have become best friends over the years. We have co-written the screenplay for some films like Grand Masti and Masti. For some films we co-wrote the dialogues. Then some films like Main Tera Hero, Ek Villain, he wrote the screenplay and I wrote the dialogues. It’s a give and take relationship. We know what the other is thinking, most of the times. If he doesn’t like something he knows how to tell me so that I will listen. Similarly, I know how to approach him. We argue, debate, fight and have different opinions on things. But most of the times we are on the same page. And that’s why we are able to work so much together. I think he is a fabulous screenplay writer. Apart from our films, he’s written some good films like ABCD, Atithi Tum Kab Jaaoge. I couldn’t write Housefull 2, so I told Sajid Khan to get Tusshar for it. He recommended my name to Mohit (Suri) for Ek Villian. We recommend each other’s names to people if we feel it is something the other can do.
You have written Grand Masti as well as Shootout At Wadala. But what kind of writing comes easily to you?
I would say Grand Masti and Shootout At Wadala come equally naturally to me. But for Shootout… I had a lot of guidance from Sanjay Gupta. The gangster world is a very particular world, and I have not lived it. Not that I have lived the Grand Masti world either (laughs). But Gupta’s been a great guiding light. I started my career with Kaante, with him. Then, after my film (Jaane Kahan Se Aayi Hai) didn’t do well, there was a very big lull – I was out of work for a long period. And he kind of gave me a rebirth with Shootout At Wadala. It got me back in the industry, got me accolades and award nominations. For a film like Shootout… I needed his guidance. I am writing his next film, Mumbai Saga. There I need him to guide me all along. But in Grand Masti, I didn’t need guidance. It came very naturally, actually sometimes too naturally to me. I have to give credit to Induji that he just let Tusshar and me be. In fact, he said I want to make Sholay of sex comedies! It’s the only adult film in the history of hindi cinema that has done business of over Rs. 100 crore. What’s tougher for me is to write a clean comedy.
How was your experience working on the Indian adaptation of 24?
It was crazy, and a lot of hard work. Considering it is such a huge international show, there was no room for mistakes. Luckily, people loved it and the reviews and critics were in our favor. But again I received great help from Renzil D’Silva. I did the dialogues for Ungli. So we are buddies and have great understanding. As a dialogue writer I have a tendency to play to the gallery, come up with punchlines and claptraps. Sometimes it works, but sometimes you ought not to do that. And in 24, I learnt from Renzil that there is a time for the claptrap in this genre. So Renzil was responsible for the reining in and giving discipline to my madness.
From where do you draw inspiration to write?
I love movies. You can leave me in a cinema house from morning to evening and I won’t need anything. Be it in a theatre, at home, or watching it on my TV. I love watching movies. I read. I love watching shows. Sometimes, something inspires you, sometimes we copy. We do plagiarise, it’s not a secret. But the passion for movies is what inspires me. I can live my life only watching films. I love every kind of film. I love Bollywood. I love The Avengers too. I love Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, I love Hangover, at the same time I love Lego movie. I love 12 Years A Slave, anything that entertains me. Entertainment is a bastardised word where it means it’s commercial. Entertainment can be anything – horror, humour, drama, action…
Who are your favourite scriptwriters?
I am a huge fan of Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar, the way they write relationships is unparalleled. Then Salim-Javed is the obvious answer, but one writer that I loved while growing up was Mr. Kader Khan. He was an industry on his own. The humour he wrote in the 80’s was outstanding. ‘Akalmandi ke jhaadu ke saath apne dimag ke bhuse ko saaf kar…,’ I think it is a brilliant line. One of my favourite films is the original Agneepath. I love the lines in that. And Kader Khan wrote that as well. He could write Himmatwala kind of films and at the same time write an Agneepath. I think he is one of the most talented actor/writers the industry has seen.
How much of scriptwriting has evolved since the days of Masti?
The internet constantly provides you with new information and hence everyone is aware of everything. You have to constantly challenge the audience with different things, have to give them something fresh. Even if you give them masala, you have to give it to them in a new way. There has to be something new even in the old format that we dish out to audiences. So writers have now started experimenting and are getting bolder.
Would you say that the script and the writer are the God of a film?
I’d say the writer isn’t God, but he isn’t a servant anymore. The writer and the script are both important. It’s very rare that a film starts without a ready script. That time has gone. Every director wants a script. Every actor wants a script. The production house pays you money according to the different stages of the script you give in. It is looked upon as the bible of a film. So the writer is becoming important, but again you have to succeed. If your film as a writer succeeds then you succeed. Then you can get more money, you get more say, you get more involvement in your projects. You have to make money for the distributor and producer. If you don’t do that then even if you get a 5-star review it doesn’t matter. So sometimes you have to write something that will be mass-friendly, which will work with the larger audience. However creative we make it, it is a business. I’d rather have my film make pots of money and get one star or a zero star review, like Grand Masti did on certain occasions. What’s the point if I get a five-star review, but my distributor commits suicide and my producer can never make another film and nobody sees my film!
What do you enjoy the most – writing screenplays, dialogues or directing?
Grand Masti was the last screenplay I wrote, I had a blast writing it, but it is a lot of hardwork. So now I am only concentrating on DND – Dialogues and Direction. Right now I am writing Mumbai Saga, Ek Villain, Ungli, and directing Ooh La La.
– By Rachana Parekh