I first spoke to Navjot Gulati a couple of weeks about his then upcoming film ‘Jai Mummy Di’. The film would have marked his debut as a feature film director. The film released a while back and did not do well. Keeping the failure of the film and the disappointment associated with it aside, Navjot is looking forward to the audience’s response to his new digital show ‘Happily Ever After’.
How was the experience of directing 54 actors on ‘Happily Ever After’?
It was a tough shoot. I felt I grew older by two years during the course of the shoot. There is a wedding happening in the show, so we needed to have that many actors to play the role of relatives, family friends etc.
What served as the inspiration for the show?
The concept was given to me by Zoom Studios. A lot of weddings had happened in the team. One of those weddings served as the inspiration for the show. I got the idea for them and then, started developing it with my team. There are two timelines in the show. There is one timeline in which the couple fall in love. Another timeline is about the point when they decide to get married and what happens thereafter.
A couple of days back, you tweeted ‘Reboot. Recalibrate. Restart’. Was it difficult to deal with the failure of your debut directorial feature ‘Jai Mummy Di’?
No, it was not difficult. I am a very self-aware person. I agree with most of the things written in the reviews. People see the end product but remain unaware of what happened during the process of the film being made. It is not the right time for me to speak about it but someday I will. Perhaps, then people will understand how someone, who is so self-aware, ended up making this disaster. I joke about it now by saying “maine gareebon ki Bombay Velvet banaayi hai”.
You have directed a short film called ‘Second Hand’.
Yes, it will come out next month on Zee5. I had earlier produced ‘Fatafat’ for the same platform.
You had told me the last time that you make films out of the things you see around yourself. Can we expect you to something which is not in your comfort zone – say a sci-fi film.
Once I deliver the breakout success as a director, I will have the liberty to do a lot of things. Once I have the creative license, a lot of things, which cannot happen right now, will happen.
Your production house Versova Hustler has produced a couple of short films. Would you like to produce feature films as well?
I want to produce films and give new filmmakers a platform too but all this cannot happen in the immediate future. At this point, my focus is on rebuilding and recalibrating my career as a director. I always have a back-up plan. This show, unknowingly, turned out to be my back-up plan. The film did not work but I am hopeful, this one will.
Is there a back-up plan in life?
I want to open a dhaba in Canada (smiles).
You wrote an interesting post on Facebook when ‘Jai Mummy Di’ was about to release. You stated how doing anything else in this world would have easier than making a film.
It is next to impossible to make a film. It is even more difficult to keep making films. Making a film has always been difficult. Now, there are more avenues because of digital but it remains a difficult thing to do. Now that my first film has released, the external struggle has ended. Now, it is more of an interior struggle. I have decided that I will make anything only when I am 100% sure about it and I have the creative satisfaction.
What is that one thing, apart from talent, which one needs to have to survive in this industry?
You need to have a lot of patience. There will be times when you will feel it is not worth it. If you manage to fight it and remain strong, there is a chance that you will achieve what you want to.
What advice would you give to an aspiring filmmaker?
Ghar chale jaao, zyaada khush rahoge (smiles). This is a tough and unstable profession, so you need to be very resolute about your dreams. It is also important to be level-headed. A lot of people find it difficult to deal with success and in the process, lose their mind. You have to accept the fact that it is a fickle industry and accordingly, learn to deal with it.
Most films or shows, which revolve around weddings, do not talk about budget. In this show, you have spoken about it.
Budget plays an important role in everything we do in our lives. ‘Happily Ever After’ is a reflection of my sensibilities and the kind of content I want to make. It is the best version of myself. There is humour, insights into love, life and relationships. It is very different from the kind of webs shows that have been made so far and yet, it give the audience a sense of nice, warm familiarity.