April 28 marks the 10th year of the much-loved Shor In The City. This multi-narrative set in Mumbai gave us a series of loveable characters essayed by a set of actors we would discover along with the film. The film would go on to make its directors Raj & DK the celebrated names they are today. With the concept of Karma at its centre, the film mixed humour with depth, romance with screwball to give us a film that remains fresh even a decade later. In this interview with Anupama Chopra, the cast and the film’s directors reunite to talk about important casting decisions, the obsessive love for the film’s songs, the dark side of guerilla filmmaking and Chetan Bhagat asking “Who the $%^& are you?” Edited excerpts:
1. Raj on casting Radhika Apte: I had seen a picture of Radhika in a magazine but didn’t remember which one. We were also auditioning other people at the same time. Suddenly, her picture popped up on Google, a picture from Rakta Charitra wearing a half-saree. But there was no name under the picture! But, somehow, we knew we must have her in the film.
Radhika: I auditioned with the scene in which Tilak asks Sapna whether she can read. It’s one of the very few scenes where I’ve auditioned and gotten the part, so I clearly remember!
2. Sendhil Ramamurthy’s backstory for Abhay that you don’t see in the film: I wrote out a whole backstory for the character, which I still have. I keep a notebook for every project, even though you don’t use more than half the stuff. I remembered that I had made up a backstory where Abhay had ripped off his business partners, who were thuggish. He shouldn’t have done business with them in the first place. He went to his father for a loan. His father turned him down because his business idea was shit. And then, these business partners give him a beating…
3. DK on shooting in a crowd with Tusshar Kapoor: We put him and Radhika on a motorcycle. We found a place in Juhu Circle to hide the camera and asked them to ride in the middle of traffic. A cop goes to Tushar, perhaps because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. Tushar tells him that we’re shooting the film and that the camera is far away. The cop finally lets him go. All of this while the shot was on!
4. Raj on the Chetan Bhagat and Paulo Coelho connection in Shor: When I offered Chetan Bhagat a role in the film, he asked me: who the $%^& are you? But he was sweet enough to tweet about the film after he saw it, saying something like he missed out on playing the part.
We wrote a sweet email to Paulo Coelho asking for permission to show his book, ‘The Alchemist’ in the film. We sent him the script too. There was no payment or anything. He told us that he really liked the script and asked us to go ahead.
5. Sendhil on being tagged everyday by fans of Shor’s music: I am still tagged every single day by somebody singing ‘Saibo’ or ‘Karma is a bitch’ and they tag every single cast member. Sometimes, I’ll go and look at it—some of them are truly awful and they should stop. But some of them are really talented. It’s beautiful.