Zoya Akhtar on Luck By Chance

Zoya Akhtar, debuts as a director with 'Luck By Chance', A BIG Pictures and Excel Entertainment film, starring Farhan Akhtar & Konkona Sen Sharma.

We learn from her about her experiences and journey thus far.

1. Why did you decide to be a filmmaker?

The simplest answer is I love films. But if you want to dig deeper, I have grown up surrounded by film makers. My entire relationship with the medium was not just of a viewer but of someone who was privy to the process. We would watch films and then have our parents and their friends discuss them, break them down, so I just saw movies in a different way. It was not as though I had to really think and then choose my career, it has always been a huge part of my life. 

2. What made you choose Luck By Chance as your directorial debut?

I had many ideas but this was the only one that I wrote from start to finish in one go. I think most first films are personal and people usually write about what they know. In my case the film industry. Though I have been an industry kid so to speak, farhan and me have both been a bit on the fringes in terms of exposure and friend circles. I totally relate to the outsider trying to get in as all my friends in film have not been born and bred in the industry. 

3. Is it true you have difficulty in casting the film?

Yes!!! The 2 lead parts were tough.

4. Why did you cast your brother in the lead role?

When something is right under your nose you sometimes don't see it. Well that was the case with Farhan. Neither me ritesh or farhan himself saw it for a while. My friend Reema Kagti (director of Honeymoon travels) was the first to cast him in her film. (dates clashed and eventually it did not work out) but she suggested it and then it dawned on me that he is perfect.

5. How did you decide on the rest of the key cast?

Koko was the only one that came after farhan. I needed to cast the boy first. But the rest of the ensemble was always in place. They were all my first choice and am really kicked they are in the film.

6. What was the biggest challenge of directing Luck By Chance?

Once you start directing it's all OK- the biggest challenge for me was to not get disappointed when people refused the film. To hang in there and believe that the timing is not right and it will happen. Luckily I was very sure of the script so that was never an insecurity.

7. Can you tell us a little about the film?

A starlet and a struggler meet while trying to navigate the hindi film industry and end up changing each others lives forever. In an industry where gigantic egos, grand desires and small opportunities converge they give out strange results, results that we refer to as kismet. And in such an unpredictable climate, is success and failure what other's define for you or something you decide for yourself.

8. The film shines a spotlight on the film industry, are the fraternity in for a shock?

No not at all! Firstly it's not an expose of the industry, it is a story about people and human behaviour. It happens to be set in the film industry as that's the space I know and therefore we see how people function in that mileu. 

9. Do you have a favourite moment in the film?

I have a couple but I don't want to play favorites.

10. Can you talk a little about the music?

I am really happy with the album. SEL And my dad have done an amazing job. All the songs fit perfectly for the mood of the situation and they are different from one another. In that sense it is a rather eclectic album….it goes from folk to drum and base to acoustic to sufi to filmy. And it all gels that's the beauty.

11. What according to you makes a good film?

It needs to work in totality. Film is a visual medium and the visual treatment needs be true to the story being told. If it can engage you engross you and evoke all the emotions it's aiming to you have a good film. At the end of the day any art that makes you feel something or makes you think or just simply makes you happy is good.  It should make you feel.

12. Does the film industry need more female directors?

The industry needs good directors...it needs original directors...their gender is irrelevant.

13. What will you be working on next?

What I am working on is a long holiday. I need some time out. After that I shall see what turns me on.

14. Tell us something not many people know about you?

If not many people know then there must be a reason. 
15. Are you going to follow in your brother's footsteps and act?


16. What advice would you give girls who want to become directors?

That they should stop thinking of themselves as GIRLS who want to become directors. They should focus on what they want, get as much exposure as possible, whether it through working, film school or by simply watching films and that they should work on their own voice. They should try and hone their own perspective on things. Be honest to any situation they are trying to create as only then can they be unique and original.

17. What will you be working on next?

Like I said – a long holiday.

18. Finally, to make it in Bollywood do you need luck, the chance or something else?

All of the above and then some.

19. What are your favourite five films and why? (Can you give short reason for each)

I have many many favorite films so these five I am picking at random. 

Taxi driver
Salaam Bombay
A fish called wanda
Singing in the rain.