Director Maneesh Sharma‘s first film, Band Baaja Baaraat, starring Ranveer Singh and Anushka Sharma, released in 2010. Sharma, previously an assistant director on several Yash Raj productions, including Aditya Chopra’s Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, had initially wanted to make Fan as his first film. It was Chopra who convinced him to try something more “mid-sized,” a move that paid off. Sharma’s tale of two wedding planners in Delhi was not only widely acclaimed, but also gave us two talented newcomers. Eight years on, Sharma looks back at what went into creating the magic of Band Baaja Baaraat.
How an in-flight magazine inspired the movie
I thought I’d go to Delhi for two weeks, just take a break. On the flight, I read this magazine. I was just flipping through the in-flight magazine and I was reading about these young entrepreneurs who’ve started their own businesses through which you can send a gift to your relatives or loved ones. You just tell them and they package it well and then they send it. There are small businesses people have started and there were four-five examples that stayed with me – this whole thing of middle-class India trying to break into entrepreneurship. So that was an interesting thought which stayed with me and these pieces came together. When I was developing the story, the Shaadi Mubarak idea came and I thought then they’ll get into wedding planning. Such things came somewhere from that article.
On getting flak for casting Ranveer Singh
It was just an instinct. When I saw his audition the first time, I was like, ‘This is Bittoo!’ When I showed it to Adi (Chopra), he was also quite sold on him. Now of course there’s this young guy and now we all know the energetic Ranveer Singh. To face it for the first time, it was too much coming on to you. But you figure he’s very malleable – he’s so energetic, obviously very excited. Sometimes there were moments of inconsistency or for lack of a better word, his focus was shifting a little. I thought that was a given. It’s his first film. He’s not expressing it, but I’m sure he’s feeling some sort of a pressure. I don’t think anybody has gone to his face and said it but overall the vibe vis-a-vis that casting was not very positive. I remember his photo had come out – my own friends told me, “What are you doing? You’re making a Yash Raj film with him?” When he fumbled, you had to take it as part of the process.
On Ranveer’s ‘funny’ acting process
He figured out his own technique, which was back then very funny. It’s still funny. He would do skipping right before the shot because he wanted his heartbeat to be a certain level. I used to ask him then also, ‘What are you doing?” We’re in the middle of a road, we’ve blocked the traffic’ and he’s like, ‘Give me five seconds, you set up, you set up.’ Clearly there was some method to his madness.
On the film having one of the lowest opening weekends in YRF history
Now I’m a producer but back then I didn’t understand numbers. Somewhere the feeling was, ‘It’s a newcomer’s film, it will pick up slowly.’ So Friday it released and after 1 pm – 2 pm, I was getting all kinds of phone calls. People were saying the movie was good, the reviews were good. Ranveer and Anushka were getting all kinds of phone calls. So I was like, ‘People are liking the picture, I’m having fun.’ Now I’m very happy. That weekend had a range of phone calls for me, right from Anurag Kashyap to Raju Hirani. I was like, “I’m sorted.” We were feeling good about it. We were at the YRF theatres in Andheri, the theatres around are still quite decent. You don’t feel like nobody is coming to watch the film. If you go to PVR, there is some audience there. On Friday evening, I asked Adi if there had been a report. He said the numbers would come tomorrow. He was also trying to be nice to us, he was shielding all of us. Friday night he told me that the day one figure. I was like, “This is quite low.” Then when we met he said, “See, we were not expecting a big opening. Frankly, it is a very low opening. But we’ll see where it goes through word-of-mouth. That seems to be positive.” I believe Saturday had twice Friday’s collections. The wave was picking up. It became a bit of a wait-and-watch situation. I didn’t even realise how bad the situation is because by the time I could, I was told, “Okay, we seem to be a bit on track.”