"Karan Johar loves me too much" - Tarun Mansukhani

By Joginder Tuteja, Bollywood Hungama News Network

Yash Raj Films has been doing it for years and Karan Johar too has joined the fray i.e. giving new directors a chance to wield the megaphone under his banner Dharma Productions. In the past Nikhil Advani and Soham Shah have made Kal Ho Naa Ho and Kaal respectively, for Karan Johar. Now Tarun Mansukhani, an erstwhile assistant director to him, has been given the responsibility to helm Dostana. Joginder Tuteja catches up with the 31 year old filmmaker who is just days away from what is pretty much, in his own words, his 'baby' being delivered!

The film is less than a week away from release. Nervous?
Frankly, I am not even trying to think about the release date. If I start doing so, I am sure I would collapse (laughs). I am taking one step at a time and am expecting audience to walk in for some good fun. After all, it is a Karan Johar production.

Was it like 'Let me shock the audience with a theme never explored' that led you to make Dostana?
Not at all! It was mainly the quest to do something new for my debut film. I wanted to make a film that has an identity of its own. One thing was sure; it had to be about friendship. When it comes to themes like marriages, extra marital affairs, living in, then honestly, they all have been over and done with. I said to myself - 'What am I bringing new to the table'? But again, I didn't want to make a very serious film since today youngsters are ready to hear you only if you don't preach. This is where Dostana came in since it has its own light hearted moments where audience can come, enjoy and have a blast.

A movie with a strong gay angle to it - Wasn't it a risky theme to begin with?
Well, I always knew that I was walking on a thin line. And no, it wasn't like I was wondering how Censors would react to the film. My challenge was for myself. I wanted to be true to the film and ensure that Dostana doesn't turn out to be about gay bashing. None of us want to make any fun of the gay community.

So the film mainly remains as sweet and naughty?
(Smiles) True, I treated Abhishek and John as a couple for the film. Of course, in its essence, Dostana showcases chemistry between two friends. Anyways, looking at both of them, they are the epitome of being macho. So ultimately it boils down to friendship.

You seem to be enthused with the spirit of friendship?
That's right, and the germ for that comes from my own childhood memories of school time friends. I have lived in boarding school for most part of my childhood and the friends that I have today are the ones whom I got in touch with during 4th/5th standard. I may not speak to them for years but they are a family whom I can call up at 4AM without any hesitation. Then, when I look at my friends in the industry, I see them doing so much in this film world. Being inspired by them, I had to bring in something different that hadn't been touched before.

Karan Johar too is your friend. But with him as a producer and an accomplished director, wasn't it intimidating?
I have worked with Karan for too long now and together we have a very good understanding of each other's requirement. I can complete his sentences. Moreover, he loves me too much and I am almost like a child and a spoilt brat. I have a chip on the shoulder and ensure that I get what I want.

You mean to say there was no interference whatsoever?
I will give you an example. He came to Miami for the first time when 10 days of shooting had already been done. Moreover, he admitted that he was in the city to chill out since he was an unemployed producer at that time and just wanted to relax. He went to his hotel room, shopped around the city and later I showed him the rushes offline. He pointed out something where he could see an improvement could be made but never once did he overshadow me.

Abhishek Bachchan, for all his worth, has been going through a horrible patch, especially after Drona. Doesn't it worry you?
I am not worried as I don't think flops changes anything for anyone. So many times it happens that a new actor gives a huge hit while an established actor could give the biggest flop of the decade. I guess at the end of the day for audience all of this doesn't matter at all. They want to watch a good film with good performances and the past record of an actor or a film doesn't have any bearing whatsoever.

Yuvvraaj comes a week later. Do you feel it could prove to be a spanner in your wheel?
I am a first time filmmaker and not even the league of big directors. In any case what do I have to loose? I am not even looking at competition let alone being worried about it.

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