8 November,2014:Â Abhishek Sharma, 36, loves himself and everything about himself. His love for movies and music makes him selfish. He is a daydreamer, who can look after himself emotionally, but just can’t take care of his stuff, for which he needs his mother, sister and wife. Nothing makes him more happy than the collective roaring laughter of people and thus, in his pursuit of humour, he makes 50 jokes a day, even if 50% of them fall flat. He hates crying and is shit scared when he sees a cop. Over a cup of coffee ahead of his comedy The Shaukeens, he spoke to Bombay Times about his twisted mind, his selfish nature and why he hates being judged. Excerpts:
How did you come into films?
I was born in Delhi, but my father was from the Air Force, so we pretty much moved around all over the country, till we returned to Delhi, where I finished my schooling at Air Force Bal Bharati School. I did my graduation in publishing at the College of Vocational Studies and got active in theatre. I then joined NSD. While I did many years of theatre, I was hungry for more audience, so I made two short films and decided to come to Mumbai in 2004. I wanted to understand the business of filmmaking. I knew that I had talent and knew the technique, but didn’t know how to get producers on board. And I thought it would be best to learn this from Mr Manmohan Shetty, as he was into financing, distribution as well as owned Adlabs at that time. I went and met one of his heads of one of his divisions, Pravin Nischol, to get any job, as I just wanted an entry and he hired me as a personal assistant. I would just make notes in the meetings, but very soon, got interested and joined the legal department, as there was a dearth of in-house people wanting to do that. Everyone was scared of legal work, but I liked contracts a lot. For me, contracts were also like scripts and I have a good eye for detailing, which got everyone excited. Slowly, for the next few years, I kept going up the ladder in terms of legal expertise, so much so that many lawyers thought that I was a lawyer. I was good at negotiating deals. Contracts taught me a lot about filmmaking. If you see a contract, you get to know everything about a deal. And that’s how you understand the mechanics of how projects are created because it’s all about give and take and a contract shows you that. That gave me a big edge as a director. I got the idea of ‘Tere Bin Laden’ and I pitched the idea to Pooja Shetty. She loved the script and asked me, ‘But who will direct it?’ She couldn’t believe her ears when I said I would. She agreed and I did my first film.
It’s rare for a creative mind to be attracted to legal.
I have a very twisted mind and am a very paranoid person. Let me explain with an example. Once, I was flying from Mumbai to Delhi. This was just a few days post 9/11. So I am in the bus going to the aircraft and there are these two gentlemen talking some gibberish stuff that sounds Middle-Eastern. And I out of nowhere, have this opinion that they may be hijacking the plane, as they were talking in this animated way. Now, I am sitting in the plane and they are sitting, coincidentally, just behind me, continuing their animated discussion. So, I am preparing my mind on the eventuality that they may hijack the plane. We were travelling in Kingfisher Airlines, who used to serve metallic cutlery as against plastic cutlery served in other airlines. So, the air hostess brings in the food trolley with the metallic cutlery. And I am thinking how can they give metallic cutlery after 9/11? Plastic, I can fight with. The airline has given these two guys a weapon. So, I took out my knife and fork and kept it with me, all the time looking back. So, my plan was that if they do something, I too have my weapon and I will attack them. I just played the whole thing in my head. I was so paranoid that I kept the knife and fork till I landed which is when I returned it. The air hostess was wondering why I kept it in the first place. She couldn’t figure whether I had forgotten to give it back or I had changed my plan of stealing it. Another time, I went to someone’s funeral. And while people are concerned about the person who has died, I am thinking about how that person is crying, whether it is a genuine cry or not. You know how in a funeral, people are competing for a louder cry. It’s like a crying competition out there and then my mind gets into a contest. Is she crying more or is he crying more? So, I am looking at one of them crying and thinking to myself, you were good, but have lack of conviction. I always observe people and am perceptive. But people close to me also tell me that I am selfish.
Explain how do you qualify yourself as selfish?
I am always chasing happiness for myself. Unknowingly while chasing that, I could also hurt you. Of course, I quickly apologise. But I am just not a social person and need to work on my relationships. I have a mind that works in two ways. I can be observing even myself with the two minds. If I want to watch a movie, I will. I will first force you emotionally, beg you and take you, but if you are in a bad shape and you say that you can’t go then I will go anyways. You have to see me when I am entering a theatre. I am running as I have to be the first one there, much before the national anthem or the trailers start. When I am watching a film, no one exists for me. I don’t hate kids, but my wife Indu and I spoke before we got married as we both don’t want kids. We just want to live our lives to the fullest and enjoy it. When you have kids, you start living for them, which I don’t want to do. It’s just one life. After ‘The Shaukeens’, I am going to New York alone for a month. I will write and watch Broadway. I like doing that. It’s so tiring to make a film that after that, you need to detach yourself. I am very difficult to get along with. My company is not bad and you will enjoy it, as I will make you laugh. But emotionally to connect with me is difficult. My wife tells me that you are great at your work and that is all that you should do, but you are pathetic socially.
Both your films so far have been comedies.
The biggest happiness I get in life is when people are laughing. To make someone laugh is my biggest dream. The roar of laughter of people is the best thing in the world. And that is why I love comedy. Even generally in life, I am always trying to make someone laugh. I like watching people when they are watching a comedy. I make friends with people, even if they are mean, if they can make me laugh. When people are laughing, it lightens the environment. I love making people laugh as I feel appreciated, but more than that, I feel I have given that person something special today. I laugh a lot and have the most obnoxious laughter. I laugh like a villain. I can be nasty with you to the extent that even you enjoy it and I can also be self-deprecating, but I will never insult you, as the purpose of humour is to make people happy. So, I can’t make you happy by insulting someone. I am not clean-hearted as humour can never be clean, as you are always making fun to make people laugh. I got my sense of humour from my father. Comedy is always twisted. Comedy is always going to be offensive to someone. Comedy is not a genre, it’s a style. While satire is sublime, farce is much more louder. So while ‘Tere Bin Laden’ is satire and ‘The Shaukeens’ is more like a buddy comedy like ‘The Hangover’. The body dragging scene in ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro’ is a farce. I love comics as they are the most unadulterated humour. I hate crying.
Is there a reason why you hate crying?
They say when you cry, you feel light, but I feel heavy. I am just scared of too much of my emotion. My problem is that I can get into depression really fast. My school days were the worst for me. While most people love school, for me, it was prison, be it wearing a uniform and having a defined time for everything. There was too much authority. I don’t like that much authority. Maybe that is why I have fear for cops due to their uniform and authority. I am so scared of cops that I feel in my past life I must have been a criminal. I don’t like to be told what to do or follow social norms that are hypocritical. I took Commerce in Class XI, but my balance sheet never matched, even though I knew that I was bright and better than what my marks were suggesting. I had failed in a couple of subjects in Class XI and felt disappointed. I hated the marks system and that is the reason I don’t go to award functions as I hate being judged. I don’t like human beings competing for these small little things. I feel that appreciation should come without any prejudice. For me, nothing can beat the collective roaring laughter of people, as only that makes me feel satisfied.
Source:The Times of India