“Its people who are obsessed about Ash's looks, not her”
She is Leena from tellyland. This Sophiya alumni has an enviable bag of work that can make many go green. From dishing out popular television software to making her directorial debut, Leena Yadav has engined a spunky journey.
The director makes her big screen splash with Shabd. And she's got no less than Aishwarya Rai and Sanjay Dutt light up celluloid flames for her. Leena Yadav in a chat with IndiaFM spills us all about Shabd, nails misquotes about Ash and tells us whether Bollywood gives women directors the brush…
No jazz, no hoopla, its an assured filmmaker speak…
The title 'Shabd' has a new sound to it besides being a curious name, how did you chance upon it?
The name is courtesy Mr. Pritish Nandy. We were looking for a name that is catchy along with being extremely relevant. Since the film is about a writer's journey, 'Shabd' suits the plot to the T.
2004 saw a good deal of females calling the shots … Farah, Pooja Bhatt, Revathy, Gurinder Chadda. How is it to wield the megaphone?
Its not like I have always wanted to be a director. I just took things as they came. Being a director was a gradual process for me. Also, my psyche is that of being a filmmaker first, the thought of being the so called, 'woman director' never rubs me.
The casting is among the highlights of the film. How did you decide on it?
Here again it is Mr.Nandy who had a major role to play. He suggested the names. When I wrote the film, I wrote it with characters in mind and not faces. So he threw names and I picked up people whom I thought fitted the bill best. Also, a starcast as this reaches out to a huge number of people. So the casting benefits every which way.
You are presenting Ash in a stunning new avatar, how was she to work with?
Ash is incredibly professional. Once she is convinced about the role, you can expect 100% involvement from her. Besides, her understanding of a script is amazing. As an actress, she is a delightful performer!
Shabd showcases a sensuous Ash, what would you say is her brand of sensuality?
It's the 'Ash brand of sensuality!' Dignified, tasteful. Don't come looking for anything voyeuristic or titillating.
Ash has carefully escaped intimate scenes this long, what is it that readied her for a liplock this time around?
I think she was absolutely convinced of the script. It was not like we simply forced the scenes at the tail end of the shoot. I took her through a detailed script reading which left no room for any last minute add ons. Besides, Ash could always refuse if she wasn't convinced of the sequence.
I might not be able to vouch whether I have made a great film or not. But I can guarantee you that the scenes have been shot with extreme aesthetic sense.
What was the tuning that Ash and you share?
There was a comfort net for sure. Working with Ash has been extremely rewarding.
That brings me to Sanjay, macho guy turns mellow. What is his character like?
I was looking for a person whose face reflected a lot of experience. In Sanjay I found the character.
The promos have Sanju Dutt spouting some poetic lines. The last time he adopted a shayrana andaz was in Saajan…
Yes. And he has pulled it off with great aplomb.
Zayed Khan pitches in with an interesting role too…
Zayed is exactly the way I had conceived his character to be. So not too much of remodeling was required.
Vishal-Shekhar have scored the music. How do you like it?
I think they have done a brilliant job of scoring Shabd. But the best thing is that they come minus any creative shadow. Their music pieces aren't derived; it's fresh. Every song of Shabd has a character of its own.
Tells us about Rangita as a producer…
She was tremendous help. Rangita was always there to weed out any hiccups during the shoot, without being nosey. For instance, there was this shoot in Goa where we had begun to use rain as an element of the song picturization. Least it stopped raining, Rangita quickly arranged for artificial showers to ensure that the shooting didn't halt. She's been wonderful.
Any particular director that you look up to…
Not essentially directors but I like some films though. Sholay, Satte Pe Satte, Satya, DDLJ.are some of my favorites.
Squash three misconceptions about Ash for us.
She is not an ice maiden, as people would like to believe. Infact Ash is among the warmest people to meet. Neither is she inaccessible. And most importantly, it's people who are obsessed about her looks, not her.
There is a lot of loose talk about Ash and Zayed having a scene, what was their equation like?
Nothing of the kind happened. We were in Goa shooting and everyone worked like one big family.
Do you think Bollywood is fair to female directors?
Absolutely! Until you throw vibes like, 'Oh I am special. I am a woman. I need someone to pull me a chair everytime I wish to sit down', Bollywood isn't an ugly place to be. If you are good at your job, there is no gender bias. You respect Bollywood, and it reciprocates the same.
One film that you liked from the PNC house?
Jhankaar Beats. I quite liked Chameli too.