Debut filmmaker Mukesh Chhabra on Dil Bechara and working with his best friend, Sushant Singh Rajput
Truth is stranger than fiction, they say. It took almost two years for Mukesh Chhabra to complete his debut film Dil Bechara. And now, when the film is ready for an OTT release amidst the coronavirus pandemic, his best friend, also the star of the movie, Sushant Singh Rajput, is no more. Mukesh’s debut film will go down in history as the last film in which the late actor has starred.
“I always wanted to cast Sushant as the hero of my first film. But now as the film is releasing, I really don’t know whether I should even feel happy about it. He (Sushant) couldn’t even watch the final version of the film,” rues Mukesh, one of the top casting directors in Bollywood, whose first film Dil Bechara just released on Disney Hotstar today. Based on the novel The Fault In Our Stars, the film’s cast also includes Sanjana Sanghi, Saswata Chatterjee and Swastika Mukherjee in key roles. We had a chat with Mukesh about the film. Excerpts:
It took two years to complete Dil Bechara. How was the journey?
It was indeed an eventful and a great journey. It was a roller coaster ride, where I learnt a lot of things. I just handed over the film to Disney a couple of days back and right now, I don’t know how I should feel. It’s a heavy concoction of mixed emotions.
Why did you choose to debut with a remake?
It’s not really a remake since I consciously didn’t watch the Hollywood version. When I first read the script, I could so emotionally connect with the plot and I was touched. That’s an important deciding factor for a filmmaker.
Does it feel bad that Sushant's last film is not releasing in theatres?
I feel it’s a very practical decision since so many big commercial films too are releasing on OTTS because we really don’t know when the theatres will reopen and everyone wants to see Sushant’s film right now. They will get to see it for free and celebrate Sushant as an artiste together.
You have been known for making unusual choices as a casting director. What do you look for while casting?
If you don’t surprise people with your casting by breaking away from the regular pattern, it would never look interesting. You have to break rules and think out of the box for people to stop and take notice of it. Casting should always be imaginative and interesting to create magic with it. I always look for the character that’s there in the script and try to find someone as interesting as that in real life to fit it perfectly.
How was it directing Sushant?
I was very clear that I would cast Sushant in my first film. When you know a person so well, everything becomes easy and fun. He was a very intelligent and adaptive actor. We all had a great time while shooting the film — playing cricket in the morning and eating together. When he saw the film while dubbing, he was very happy with the way it had turned out.
Are there any other films you are working on?
Right now, I am not being able to think much. I have lost my best friend and I just cannot bring myself to think about anything at this moment.