SHASHANKA GHOSH, popularly known as ‘Shanks’ by the Kapoor sisters (Rhea and Sonam) has deliberately stayed away from the trailer and music launch of his film, Veere Di Wedding. He doesn’t call himself a recluse, but thinks he is not required for these things. This says a lot about the man, who is confident that his craft and his film will speak for him. He’s teaming up again with Sonam and Rhea Kapoor after Khubsoorat, with Kareena Kapoor Khan, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania for company as well. He says he wasn’t going to attend Sonam’s wedding either (“Bhai, picture puri karni hai ki nahin?”) but eventually relented.
Veere Di Wedding tells the story of four girlfriends who are trying to figure out the institution of marriage, but Ghosh sees something very different in the film. “For me, the film is the story of how friends are the new family. Your friends know you better than your family. In my case, when I had fallen ill and was hospitalised, my family got to know of it much later. My friends took care of me.” Talking about directing a film with four female leads, Ghosh laughingly narrates an anecdote of how Anil Kapoor felt sorry for him. “One day, AK came to the set, and he could only see girls. There was a sea of girls on the sets, and stuck between them was me. I find the entourages of these girls were irritating. Each one is concerned about how their clothes are looking, should they look this way… here a shot is being taken, performances are being given, and they are worried about these things. My hair definitely became whiter because of all of this. I think I have used up all the patience I had built over the last 40 years in this film.”
Ghosh has been part of the media industry for over 15 years. He was the creative head of Channel V (earlier MTV), and was the brain behind the funny lines mouthed by Quick Gun Murugan. He also created the first desi VJ, Udham Singh, a character that was initially supposed to be part of an ad campaign for Slice. Wanting to be a CA in his early days, he ended up in advertising and then went on to direct a feature film, Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part 2, in 2003. Ask him if he misses his days working for a channel, and his reply is “Yes, the salary (laughs). I was making a lot of it, in the mid ’90s — not even making a fraction of it now. But that is done — we only have one life, and featurelength films are addictive.”
Quick Gun Murugan, a popular character that was created by Rajesh Devraj, was made into a film in 2009, but not many are aware that a film on the same character was to be made in the mid ‘90s. When Ghosh began working for Channel V, he faced resistance about letting Murugun on the tube, but somehow it passed under the radar and became a huge hit.
“When the CEO of Star TV came up with the idea of making a film on Quick Gun Murugan, I was cocky enough to tell him “I’m setting up your channel right now, so wait.” Back then, Kamal Haasan wanted to play the character, and Santosh Sivan wanted to shoot it — but I asked all of them to chill. Big mistake.”
Coming to Sonam Kapoor, he reveals he shares a complicated relationship with the fashionista. “I like her, and I think she also likes me — she is a lovely human being, but she irritates the life out of me. She’ll randomly call, saying “I want to do a reading now.” I would say “I’m busy”, and by busy I mean I’m having coffee at a café. 15 minutes later, she shows up at the café, and in 20 minutes, we have to leave as a crowd starts gathering, but she doesn’t give a shit. Five in the morning, she goes for a run. I tell her she can’t do these things, and Rhea says someone tell her that, but she goes, and her security is trying to run behind her. She makes me run up the wall. The amount of fights I’ve had with her! As an actor, she is fabulous but has limited vocal range, so in Khoobsurat, I got her dubbed, and you can see the difference.”
Ghosh says he looks up to directors like Rajkumar Hirani, Anurag Kashyap, Shoojit Sircar, Ayan Mukherji, Shakun Batra, Abhishek Chaubey and Homi Adajania. A lot of things are lined up for him after the release of Veere — a web series, he has shot will release in July. He’s also in talks for multiple films, and is hoping to direct a few commercials.