As an assistant director Taranveer Singh used to run door to door for assignments. As an outsider, hustling was his way to find a space in the industry. But that is now his backstory. Taranveer’s directorial debut, Tuesdays & Fridays, is up for a theatrical release on February 19. Produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the movie revolves around two people, Varun and Sia, and how their seven-week dating plan turns into a twisted love story. The movie marks the debut of Anmol Thakeria Dhillon, son of veteran actress Poonam Dhillon, and former Miss India, Jhataleka Malhotra. It also features Niki Walia, Zoa Morani, Anuradha Patel, Parmeet Sethi among others.
In a conversation with the Cinema Journal, Taranveer revisits his journey replete with blood, sweat, and tears, and talks about the sweet fruit of his perseverance. Excerpts from the interview:
As your debut film gears up for release, what is your frame of mind right now?
Nervous, anxious and I am feeling exactly what I always felt before the result is declared after the exam. For the world, I am a debutant film director, but I worked for the last 15 years to finally get my debut. I started in 2007 when I enrolled in film school.
That is quite a regular story of every budding filmmaker who starts their journey from film school to film set...isn’t it?
Yes, but my journey is about how I bagged my first job as an assistant director (AD) with one of my favourite filmmakers. I absolutely loved the film, Jaane Tu... Ya Jaane Na, when it released and I was in film school back then. I was a huge admirer of Abbas Tyrewala because he is one of the finest screenplay writers and storytellers of our time. So, after watching that film, I made up my mind to work with him as an AD and I started almost hounding him; I started messaging him and convincing him how interested and passionate I am to work with him... And, finally, I worked with him in his second film Jhootha Hi Sahi. He is one of the lovely human beings I have ever come across! For a new filmmaker like myself, having a positive experience is important in an industry. I also assisted on the film Karthik Calling Karthik and I must say Excel Entertainment is a fab place to work for any young mind. We are always encouraged to share innovative ideas... somewhere that gives confidence.
After working with them, you finally decided to write Tuesdays & Fridays?
No, in between I also hounded Ayan Mukerji and worked as an AD with Dharma Production. I absolutely loved the film Wake Up Sid, I can watch the film anytime and many times! Though I did not know Ayan, I tried to reach out to him through everyone I knew back then. Then two of my friends who knew Ayan managed to set up an interview. And, I went to meet Ayan with the printout of my CV, work sample and story ideas...exactly what we do for any job interview. Now, when I look back it sounds stupid. In fact, when I asked Ayan if he needs a hard copy of my CV after our conversation, he smiled and said, ‘no, thanks’. However, he must have seen something worthy in me and took me on his next film, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. In a way, I really hustled to find my space, but I am happy! I think I redefined the word ‘hustle’, I am a happy hustler!
Your film is backed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Does that put you under extra pressure?
There are two things I would love to achieve through this film: I want the audience to watch my film and love it; also, I want Sanjay sir to feel proud of me. I am a new director, making a film with new actors and though it is a tiny film, with the budget we got, I want to justify that. So, I am looking for a positive result. Having said that, I also know that I got a chance to work with senior actors like Anuradha Patel, Parmeet Sethi only because I was helming the film under SLB Production; no one knows me here. Why would a senior actor listen to my script? It has only happened because of the banner. I am thankful!