ON WORKING WITH NO SCRIPT FOR BARFI!
Anurag Basu is a very different species of director. When we were working on Barfi!, there were many times that Priyanka, Ileana, Saurabh sir and many of us actors used to sit waiting for a shot and we had no idea what was going on. There was no script, there was no blueprint of where the story was going to go. We all knew what the story is but there was no screenplay of sorts. Dada always improvised and always created it. I think because of the good experience we had on Barfi!, or the result of Barfi!, it lent itself to the making of Jagga Jasoos.
ON THE FAILURE OF JAGGA JASOOS
It (Jagga Jasoos) broke my heart and my bank. It was a very, I can't say complicated character because it's a pretty simple and a pretty basic one, but there were a lot of complications behind it to make it look that simple and basic. I think we had too much on our plate – firstly, it was a detective film, the character stammers, it's a musical, he's finding his father, there is a love story, it's episodic – so it was very hard. I'm not very good with dialogues, so I was very happy to work on Barfi!, where I didn't have to say anything, and this, where I spoke less. So I didn't have to memorize lines, which was great. But I think the challenge in this film was to not make the stammering sound irritating and also when you sing the songs, it was meant to be like a dialogue. So it's not like a song, it's not like you're performing a song which is in a surrealistic zone, it's very real.
ON HOW HE GETS INTO CHARACTER
I do stupid superficial things – I use one perfume for one character because my sense of smell is very strong and any sense or sensation – if it's touch, smell, feel – if it can kind of remind you of that character, it helps. You know what happens is that sometimes you're doing two films at a time, like I was doing Wake Up Sid and Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahaani simultaneously. I was doing 10 days here, then going and shooting 12 days here, then coming back for 10 days. So two days overlap happens of one character going into the other character. Then this thing started helping me. I had one perfume for Wake Up Sid, I had one perfume for Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani and when I put that on and stepped out of my trailer, it kind of put into perspective, 'Okay I'm this guy right now, I'm playing this character.' I also like particular shoes for different characters.
ON SACRIFICING FRIENDSHIPS ALONG THE WAY
I think sacrifice is something I learnt from Mr. Sanjay Leela Bhansali. He always instilled this value in me that you need to sacrifice a certain personal life or you need to sacrifice fun or something stardom will give you because it will take away from a certain believability or certain deep empathy you'll feel for your characters. Sacrifice holds great value in my life. I've sacrificed a lot of friendships growing up. My school gang, I meet them probably once a month, they meet each other three times, four times a week. And many times you go there, and you're lost in conversation and you are lagging behind and there are new beats of laughter that they have which you probably don't.
ON THE MOST TAKES HE'S GIVEN
I started with Sanjay Leela Bhansali and he doesn't do anything less than 45 takes. So even if I had to turn my head, I probably had to give 50 takes. There was a shot in this so-called 'towel song' Jab Se Tere Naina, where I had to roll back on this chair and fall down and the towel had to fall in a certain way with my leg showing and there was one shot where I was lying down laughing and I had to get up and sing a song and he's very particular about what beat you catch, he's a very musical director – you fall on this beat, you lift your head here, you laugh here – everything is musical. I did 45 or 50 takes one day and my back really broke. The next morning when I came back, he said, 'No, I've not got it' and I had to do another 70 takes.