Co-writer and director of Zubaan, which will screen on the closing night during the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival, discusses the film with Almas Meherally.

Q: You’ve co-written Zubaan. What or who is the inspiration behind the story?

A: I wrote the story of Zubaan over seven years… There is no particular person who is the inspiration for the story but rather the themes prevalent in the film are important to me and have played a part in my life, consciously or subconsciously. Identity, faith, faithlessness, love – these are the core themes running through the veins of Zubaan.

Q:  Why a musical?

A:  Music is the language of the universe. It’s the thing that connects us all.  It creates bonds across communities, religions and ethnicities. After movies, it’s music that’s my second love. I also wanted to use as a metaphor for faith in my film. And when I write a script, music inadvertently shows up in my story. I can’t seem to escape it.

Q: As a director, what would you say was the most challenging aspect of making Zubaan?

A:  I think the toughest stage of making any film is the selling of it. It’s absolutely the most uncreative part of the entire journey and one that I don’t particularly enjoy much. There is something vulgar about it. The rest of it – the script writing, filming and post production are like a constant creative explosion. I can’t wait to get into that rhythm again.

Q: Tell us about your experience working with Vicky Kaushal and Sarah Jane Dias

A: I found Vicky after auditioning 400 boys for the part. O remember being extremely frustrated at not finding the right person for the role. Then one of my producers, Guneet Monga,

suggested his name to me. She had worked with him earlier. I was shocked after I auditioned Vicky. He was brilliant, just brilliant. And he stayed that way throughout the shoot. It seemed like I had written the part with him in mind. He’s a great actor and the sky’s the limit for him.

Sarah was the first actor to be cast in the film. I wanted to cast  girl who was a singer in real life because singers have a certain body language, which is very sexy. She has brought more than just body language to her part… She has brought a mystery and luminosity to it and I believe this is her best work yet. She’s fierce.

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from the film?

A: I hope people walk out feeling fabulous after seeing the film. I hope it reaffirms their faith in whatever they believe… I hope they take away from this the film the belief that anything is possible and that life is great, despite its ups and downs. I really feel the story of this film will connect not only with Indian but with anyone who is a believer.