Mandira, Raj Kaushal set for 1st home production

MUMBAI: "What's a marriage? Let's ask the wise of the ages... Shaadi ek aisa laddoo hai, joh khaye who pachtaye, jo naa khaye, woh pachtaye (Marriage is a treat that you regret indulging in, but also regret when you don't indulge). Age-old wisdom always has a way of saying big things in a few words, isn't it? But as we need an entire story, we have to get into the dynamics of this so-called institution," began Mandira Bedi's husband director Raj Kaushal at Tian (a resto-pub in suburban Mumbai) on 12 August 2003.

Raj Kaushal

Kaushal had invited media and guests as part of a cool, informal gathering to announce the details of his forthcoming feature film Shaadi Ka Laddoo which would start rolling in six days from now. The film would be made under the banner of Rama Productions (Ra = Raj, Ma = Mandira) and co-produced by Vinod Tejwani.

Kaushal made his directorial debut with Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi [Dino Morea, Sanjay Suri, Rinke Khanna] - a film that was produced by Percept Picture Company. The new project Shaadi Ka Laddoo will star several TV artistes and Bollywood stars such as Sanjay Suri, Mandira Bedi, Ashish Chowdhary, Samita Bangargi (Ashish Chowdhary's girlfriend in real life) and Divya 


Mandira Bedi

When asked whether Mandira's inclusion is an attempt to cash into her newfound celebrity status post World Cup cricket 2003, Kaushal says that she is merely one of the characters. Wasn't he cashing on his wife's popularity, courtesy Extraaa Innings? "No way. The film was conceived long before the world cup cricket came into Mandira's life. Mandira fits the role as a T. She plays a Bohemian artiste in search of Mr Right," elaborates Kaushal.

While speaking to at Tian, Mandira looking a million bucks in a red saree with a spaghetti blouse, chipped in: "It's a dynamic role. I can't wait for it to start. But in real life... well, I have founded my Mr Right."

Kaushal continued with a smile: "While it may seem that marriage is a necessary stepping stone in the path of life, there lies a sceptic inside every heart asking whether it is necessary, whether it is a statement of anything in particular and above all, whether is it natural? Or has it been just a way of old goats ensuring that young kids don't have more fun than they can at their age. What is 

it? What makes it tick? And whom should it involve? I thought I would make a film and dwell upon this issue in a humorous way."

While elaborating on the subject, Kaushal says: "It's about two couples, essentially. Sanjay and Divya are married and have kids. Sanjay is the owner of a ball-bearing company. Ashish is the CEO of a music company in love with Samita. The guys were together in college, they meet after many years, both feel that the other one is happier, trouble starts brewing."

The shooting would comprise of two schedules. Eighty per cent of the film would be shot in London in about 22 days and the remaining would be completed in Mumbai. Kaushal leaves for London tonight (13 August), while the remaining cast and crew would follow him three days later.

So, how did Kaushal do the casting? "This time unlike in my first film, I have the production reins in my hands. So I was not dictated by anyone. I didn't want to bow down to market considerations. I wanted to make a film as per my own conviction. Actually, I did toy with the idea of making it with biggies. But then, I was being forced to do things which I could never approve of. I decided not to bend backwards," he emphasises.

"Strictly on characterisation basis. I know Sanjay Suri since the days of Pyar Mein Kabhi Kabhi. I think he has a very innocent but yet intense face; there is a very nice aura about this guy, he looks extremely harmless, any girl would like to take him home to her mom. For Ashish Chowdhary's character, I required a handsome, 

looking guy with dreamy eyes. I know Ashish since the last eight years. He is a good friend," Kaushal added.

"I am not aiming to make a film to keep my kitchen going. Let me clarify that this does not mean that commerce would take a backseat. In fact, this film would have a good overseas market. Four-fifth of the film is going to be shot in London. I have chosen London because the script demanded it. Don't some married Indian men can go to London and have a ball?" Kaushal says while winking.

Beginning his career as a copywriter, Raj Kaushal, who had always been fascinated with the visual medium, moved to ad film-making. Over the last few years he has produced a number of memorable ads for clothing, two-wheelers and white goods - his last commercial featuring Dino Morea and Bipasha Basu for Siyaram won him lots of acclaim. Besides ads, he has also directed music videos and corporate films.

How about the music? "The music will be composed by Vishal Shekhar again; he did it for me in Pyaar Mein... as well. We have six songs in the film. Four of those would be picturised in London. The singers are Udit Narayan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Shaan and Mahalaxmi," Kaushal informs.

The budget? Kaushal says that his lips are sealed. We probed. He replied: "Please don't insist. I can't tell you the budget. But being an ad filmmaker, I know when and where to cut corners or go flat out."

Do ad films take a back seat now? "The monsoon season is quite slack when it comes to ads. The business picks up by Diwali. By that time, we'll be back from London. I would never stop making ads," he quipped.

Parting shot. Why doesn't the good-looking Raj make a special appearance in the film, like many other film-makers do? "Come on, I am handsome but in a professional way," he laughs.

Also present were Negar Khan (the Chadti Jawani music video girl) and her boyfriend Saahil Khan (of N.Chandra's Style), Vishal Shekhar, Ashish Chowdhary, Sanjay Suri and Nikhil Panchamia (Nitin Manohan's brother).

Shaadi Ka Laddoo is targetted for release early next year. One will have to wait and see if the director-husband Kaushal ensure that Mandira's magic works on the big screen as well?

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