Rajkumar Hirani & Abhijhat Joshi | PK – The logic versus emotion debate

Anupama Chopra: After I saw the PK Abhijat, you and I had a long conversation and of course, I loved the first half but I talked to you about the things which I found emotionally unconvincing .You explained how as creative artists you took a call to allow things which you knew were flawed so that the larger emotional arc of a film can be served. How do you do that? How do you actually say, “Okay, this is not perfect but the bigger picture is better because of this.” Is it difficult? Is it instinctive? How do you take those calls?

Abhijat Joshi: You had a specific question about the coincidence of the letter.

Anupama Chopra: Yes, that for me was the most unconvincing part. I was like, “But how can this happen?”

Abhijat Joshi: I have been thinking of that. For us it was a kind of a MacGuffin. So that was not very important. In A Tale Of Two Cities, two identical men in love with the same woman. But it’s the entire context of the French revolution, the guillotines and the two cities that is much more important, so you are able to overlook that. All we tried to do was to make that very convincing, as much as we could, so that he finds the same letter, that’s why he doesn’t call. Sushant’s character, Sarfaraz is shown to be a respectful person and a real gentleman who thinks that Jaggu is under tremendous pressure and doesn’t want to push it. So it’s a part of his character. Actually, after our conversation I started thinking about 3 Idiots and I realized that there I am not convinced that Rancho would never get in touch with his friends because he’s a free thinker and he would not abide to a vow which is of no consequence to him. That gentleman has got his degree and he wouldn’t care. That part of it is over. He doesn’t have to be away for five years from the girl that he really loves. But what happens is that these things don’t matter and that’s what I have learnt that so long as the movie is really carrying people, if they are transported and if you are able to create a certain emotion that you are trying to generate there and if your convictions are in place, I think these little things don’t matter.

AC: So in a sense, in storytelling, is emotion more important than logic?

Rajkumar Hirani: I think what is most important is engaging an audience. All of us, be it critics, be it filmmakers, we have lost the innocence of watching a film. We can never watch the film the way we watched it while we were students.Now every filmmaker I meet, they don’t come up with what they thought about the film, they say, “Arrey yaar! You are getting the girl at the 30th minute? That’s not the right thing to do. Plot point comes at this point.” So they come up with these kind of things, which when you talk to a normal audience, they don’t care. They want to be engaged, they are with you, they have walked into the hall, bought their ticket and say, “Come on now, entertain us.” I am not saying logic is not important. Logic is important. But you pick up your best film, you  will find holes in it, because you are jumping in time, space constantly.

AC: And that’s creative liberty.

AJ: Like in Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Jimmy Shergill’s character calls the radio station at a certain time, and at one point we realized that how does Jimmy Shergill know that Munna will be at the radio station but we realized nobody else in the world is going to think about, so we let it pass.

RH: No, because what happens is that when you create logic to match that, you are actually disengaging the audience. You are spending 30 seconds of screen time to get the logic right which is actually disengaging them from drama.

AC: I noticed this time, Abhijat, you were looking at numbers. But for me, I think that was more about you wanting it to reach people. You seem more invested that this film should run. Why?

AJ: For the longest time, we felt that the film didn’t work and we accepted that.

AC: You mean when?

AJ: In the second half.

AC:
This is pre-release?

AJ: Pre-release, yes. Long before the release, when we were writing the second half, it was supposed to be completely different. Inception came along and we saw that and we realized that  our second half was going along the same lines.

AC:
This is Christopher Nolan’s Inception?

AJ: Christopher Nolan’s Inceptions.

RH: That was the original thought of the film. We thought we had cracked something interesting and came Inception, so we had to completely change.

AC:
Mr. Nolan messed it up?

AJ: Yes, it was like a knock-out punch because we were so happy with this idea and we realized that we had to sacrifice that and then everything that we did post that, we know that the natural progression from the first half to the second cannot be achieved now.

RJ:
The uniqueness was gone.

AJ: So our best hope was to, with craft, but more than craft, with conviction, try to state things in as dramatic a manner as possible, in the second half and I knew that we were falling short somewhere in trying to achieve that but we had worked so hard on it and when we realized that we needed more humor, we had worked so hard on it that at a certain point, I started feeling that whatever we needed to state is coming out very beautifully. It is flawed because we had broken that natural progression but inspite of that, the general public, my friends that I know from Ahmedabad, people who see three films in a year, not people who see thirty films in a year , they will actually sit and listen to all of this, that I was convinced about that and that was precisely the reaction that I was getting. Whereas, I had started realizing that in the film industry, the reaction was somewhat different because they are also second guessing as to what the audience is going to like. So, they are watching a film and they are saying , “Oh! It started going wrong. And it’s going wrong even further and now I think it’s really sinking. Okay, they’ve pulled it back.”

But the film is being watched in a certain way and a lot of the calls that Raju was receiving were of that nature, whereas the calls that I was receiving were completely different because some old friends called me up saying that, “I loved it.” So there was a kind of a disconnect between these two and I think I got too stupidly involved in that conflict.

RH: Simple story is, to cut a long story short is, just before the film released, I think Abhijat, it was the day of the release or something or for a long time, he was saying “This is our best work.” And I was constantly saying, “Abhijat, this is not our best work.” o Abhijat is very keen to prove it.

AC:
And he has!

AJ:
No, no. At a certain point I sat and told him that. “Raju! I will not be able to convince you.”

RH: One night he got very sad very recently and said you know, “You still think?”I said, “I still think.”

I said we’ve strived hard. It’s not that we’ve given up. We strive very hard but I think we never reached there. He put it better, he said maybe our talent was lacking somewhere, we didn’t strive there, but we were lucky that people still took in their stride so that’s why he’s been catching figures and say, “Look! People are watching.”

 

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