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    Sep 2011


    Default Indian man has not kept pace with Indian woman: Kapil Sharma

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    Kapil Sharma, 38, is an Air Force child who grew up around fighter planes, but stepped out of his familiar world to debut as a director with 'I, Me Aur Main'. He talks to TOI about his father Rakesh Sharma, his own obsession with relationships and why John Abraham is a guy's guy. Excerpts:

    Your father Rakesh Sharma is the first Indian in space. What are your memories of that time?
    It was a unique childhood, to say the least. My father was born in Patiala to refugee parents and was a part of the Indian Air Force. The talented few amongst the Air Force pilots are made test pilots. Test pilots are best suited to look at the space programme as they are trained to expect the unexpected. Due to our friendly relationship with the USSR, India was asked to pitch in their youngest, fittest test pilot for the space programme and my dad was selected along with another colleague. It was a high-risk operation. I was nine years old at that time and was suspected of having appendicitis and so missed out on the two-day live coverage on Indian television. There was no part of his training that could have prepared him for becoming the household name that he had become. We were just a one-channel nation at that time and he was plastered all over it. He retired after 33 years of flying and now stays in Coonoor.

    You have chosen to become a film director. Wasn't joining the armed forces the obvious choice given your father's accomplishment?
    I am an Air Force brat who grew up at various Air Force bases. I changed six schools in about five years and got stability for the first time when I was sent to a boarding school, Rishi Valley. I lived outside of a cantonment-style living and was among an eclectic mix of kids and got exposed to books and other things. I grew up thinking that I would become a fighter pilot and was fascinated by aircrafts as I had grown up around that. But my father encouraged me to not become an Air Force person, given the varied interests I had, be it books, movies, sports or fighter flying.
    Joining the Air Force would restrict me to do just one thing flying fighter planes, which he called neuro-muscular coordination. So I did my Masters in Communication from Pune University, after which I supplemented my Masters programme in the US and spent time in LA. I returned to India after 9/11 and started assisting directors as a freelancer. I assisted the ad filmmaker Tarsem on his feature film The Fall, after which I did Being Cyrus, Ghajini and then Drona, where I met my producer Goldie Behl, who was also directing the film. I felt I needed to challenge myself and stick my neck out to become a director.

    Your film deals with relationships in an unconventional way. Have you borrowed from your own experiences in any way?
    I wanted to do an urban relationship film as I and many of my friends were struggling with relationship issues. The common thread was dysfunctionality. When I first moved into Mumbai, I met a couple, who were married for 10 years. Theirs was a model marriage, but fell apart shortly after. I was pretty shaken by that. In 2000, I went through a toxic relationship myself. It was a bit obsessive and delusional.
    It was emotionally abusive because she would behave in a way that led to create crises, as a sign of interpreting commitment which was basically done to extract a physical relationship. I am obsessed with relationships and I'm curious about how things keep changing so much. For instance, how the Indian man is not prepared to deal with the Indian woman, who has leap-frogged ahead of him in many ways and is independent. So the roleplay that we have grown up seeing, related to marriages have all become conflict points today, as the the Indian man is not updated. The Indian mother, who has brought up the Indian man up, has also not kept pace with the Indian woman. There is a constant sense of reinforcement of our society being patriarchal. I have been in a live-in relationship for the last four years and would definitely consider a woman as my equal and certainly even consider her ahead in some aspects.

    How was your experience working with John Abraham?
    He is the kind of actor who is extremely trusting of his director and gives himself completely. While it is an incredible amount of responsibility, it is also liberating. He can have different conversations with different people. When he is with guys, he is a guy's guy and can talk about fitness, motorcycles and women whereas with women he can talk about their lives and their relationships.

    Are you satisfied with your first film?
    The problem with feature filmmaking is that it offers you this mirage of being able to achieve perfection as the theory of it is that you have control of every part of the film, though in reality, it is as inexact as the next thing in your life. You will hit some of those notes and you will not hit some. So the result is bittersweet, but the journey was beautiful.



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