MUMBAI: Director Raj Mehta says he is “anxious” about the release of his second feature film “Jugjugg Jeeyo” as it opens theatrically at a time when there’s so much uncertainty around the box office performance of Hindi films.
Produced by Dharma Productions, the comedy drama is headlined by Varun Dhawan, Anil Kapoor, Kiara Advani and Neetu Kapoor.
The trade has put its hopes on the film, scheduled to open on June 24, to follow up on the success of “Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2” in a year where the Hindi film industry has seen only two other hits, “Gangubai Kathiawadi” and “The Kashmir Files”.
In an interview with PTI, Mehta said the lackluster performance of Hindi films have “added to the nervousness”.
“There are new theories coming out every week about what kind of films will work or won’t. Some say the trend is of big films, some say that’s not the case entirely. There’s a lot of uncertainty, I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to work. Does that add to the anxiety? Absolutely. “Because you can never be confident that you’ve made a film that’s going to do well. This is my second film, I’m following up a successful debut, so there’s that pressure as well. But the times are such that you don’t know what is going to work,” the “Good Newwz” director said.
Mehta said he has got reassurance from his producer, Karan Johar, that he is happy with the finished film. “There’s nervousness but I’m also excited. What is reassuring me is that the person who I’m responsible towards, the producer of the film, has enjoyed the film, seen it and loved it,” he added.
“Jugjugg Jeeyo” follows the story of a father and son, who discovers that they both want to divorce their wives. Mehta, who had previously helmed Akshay Kumar-Kareena Kapoor Khan starrer “Good Newwz”, said his latest is more “drama heavy” than his debut.
‘Jugjugg Jeeyo’ is more drama heavy than ‘Good Newwz’ was. ‘Good Newwz’ was an out-and-out comedy except for the third act. Here, the subject is marriage, relationships and divorces so there is more drama, especially in the second half.
“There’s also a strong female perspective that comes into play. The film actually has more than what the trailer has suggested. All of this was done in an entertaining way,” he added.
Mehta decided to work on the film a month before the release of “Good Newwz'” in 2019, after he chanced upon the story by Anurag Singh and Sumit Batheja.
The director collaborated with his “Good Newwz'” writer Rishhabh Sharrma to flesh out the screenplay as he felt it had a “solid potential of comedy and emotions”.
Though the director has a hit debut behind him in the genre, Mehta said comedy is an “absolute gamble”.
“You may be enjoying it while writing it, but you don’t know how it might appear on the screen. There isn’t a bigger sinking feeling than seeing a punch not land. That risk is always there, which is why every filmmaker who has dabbled in this genre has said that this is really difficult to pull off. But everything in ‘Jugjugg Jeeyo’ fell into place beautifully,” he added.
Mehta said comedy is something that comes naturally to him but it is too early in his career to call any genre as his “forte”.
“I was drawn to ‘Good Newwz’ and ‘Jugjugg Jeeyo’ because of their stories. In fact, I even made a short film in the Netflix anthology ‘Ajeeb Daastaans’ which was quite dark. I’m still too young in my career to feel, ‘this genre is my forte’. I hope I don’t get that because I want to keep experimenting with my work.”
“The next genre that I want to try is action. It’s a genre I enjoy watching, but it’s just that I didn’t find a subject of that kind to be direct. I’m working on one, but let’s see where it goes . These big, happy films are purely by accident.”