Up, close and personal with Dan and Shuili

Its trailer first got people wondering about what October was all about. And now the movie has released to favourable reviews. Meet Dan and Shuili, and the man who brought them to life. Tata Sky listens in to Varun Dhawan, Banita Sandhu and Shoojit Sircar reveal the story behind the making of October.

Q. The tagline ‘not a love story’ made it even more intriguing.

Shoojit: Yes, it is the story of a boy and a girl but it’s not a love story. This is a film about relationships.

Q. Varun, this film has a number of National Award winners among the crew…

Varun: I’ve counted. The team has 11 national awards. The first day of the shoot, I was very nervous. I was afraid I would be exposed as a non-actor and Dada would throw me out. Dada told me, “Don’t think about the lines; just listen to what your co-actor is saying.” I forgot I was shooting; I was observing, I was listening, and it hit me in the moment. After that, I didn’t have to act.

Q. Is it difficult to promote a film without letting on the story or plot?

Varun: What fascinates me is that for Pink, they only released the poem.

Q. Dan and Shuili – is there a story behind their names?

Shoojit: Yes. In all of Juhi’s scripts, there’s always a meaning behind every little thing. ‘Shuili’ means Parijat or Night Jasmine. You will see the significance of these names when you watch the film.

Q. The viewers of Acting Adda have their dreams – and would like to know how you found Banita.

Shoojit: I shot all the films for Tata Sky’s Acting Adda. I also shoot commercials. During the making of Pink, I was shooting a commercial for Double Mint. I saw Banita’s audition tape and immediately knew that I wanted this girl for the ad. Later, I met her at the screening of some film. We were looking for a girl who is 20, who is mature in her thinking, in the way she conducts herself, who could express herself with subtle reactions. I knew she was my Shuili.

Q. Why did you finalise Varun?

Shoojit: Varun was mostly accidental. When we met, I saw Dan in him. I can’t explain why I felt so strongly about it.
Varun: I pursued him!

Q. Banita, this is your debut. What have you learnt from Varun and Shoojitda?

Banita: One of things I learnt from Shoojitda is that this was a personal journey; I learnt to slow down and live in the moment. Varun never made me feel inferior because he’s so successful; he’s been so supportive.

Q. Music plays an important part in this film.

Shoojit: The music was specially scored by Shantanu Moitra, because more than songs, the background music takes the narrative forward.

Q. How did you train for this role?

Varun: Dada’s methods are unusual. I would go to him and say, “I’ll play him like this” and Dada would say, ”No, you don’t have to do anything at all.”
Banita: I say this as a compliment; Dada is quite manipulative – he’ll only feed us ideas in bits, as and when we need to know.
Shoojit: We have to manipulate the actors so they become the character. And once the actors become acclimatised, they begin to manipulate as well, and improvise.