Exclusive: Shubh Mangal Zyaada Saavdhan helmer Hitesh Kewalya talks to us about Bollywood's first LGBTQ story
He’s awaiting the release of his debut feature which also happens to be the most anticipated film of the year. But Hitesh Kewalya didn’t seem at all touched by pre-release jitters when we caught up with him while he was in town recently. Kewalya’s upcoming release Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan is the first commercial Bollywood film focusing on a same-sex love story and of course, the narrative around homosexuality in the country.
Kewalya had written the screenplay and dialogues for the earlier instalment of the series, the critically acclaimed Shubh Mangal Saavdhan which told the story of a man suffering from erectile dysfunction. Clearly, there’s a method to his genius and the helmer helped us get some perspective on his work. Excerpts:
How long have you been working on the script for Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan?
I have been working on it even before Shubh Mangal Saavdhan was shot, we had an idea that we want to do this. I remember I had a rough five-pager kind of a thing with characters and rough plotlines, and that’s where it began.
You wrote the screenplay and dialogues for Shubh Mangal Saavdhan. Was it planned like a series?
You don't exactly plan it like that but you always have a thing at the back of your mind that what if it works and it takes off? If there was a sequel, what would it be and so on...
This is the first mainstream Bollywood movie talking about an LGBTQ love story. How anxious were you while making it?
You're anxious about any film, to be honest. But when you're doing something that's not been done before you start taking it as motivation because then you have all the more responsibility to do it right.
Do you enjoy Bollywood right now?
Definitely, more so because I'm part of it now. Earlier of course, I was an audience and I did enjoy it back then too. But now I have a part to play in it and I love it.
Was Ayushmann your first choice for the film?
Ayushmann has always been my first choice because he was part of Shubh Mangal and he has proved that he is willing to break the line and take up roles which are difficult and he brings about a certain kind of connect that's very tangible. Like he's one of our own, that's really important.
How did you get your start in Bollywood?
I actually started working when I was 18, that was on a radio show and since then I have worked in television, theatre, advertising, films, I made this indie film called Siddharth where I was the associate director and co-writer, then Shubh Mangal happened where I wrote the screenplay and dialogue
What are you working on next?
I'm working on two three stories, all dealing with some aspect of human relationships and I love underdog stories and I would love to make a sports film someday.
Directors who have inspired you
There are so many, Hrishikesh Mukherjee definitely, Anand L Rai, because his films and stories have an organic quality. I also love Woody Allen’s work.