What would you do if you were invisible? You can think up a storm, can't you?
That's pretty much what director Prawaal Raman did when he made the hero of his next film invisible.
Gayab, a concoction of strange experiences, stars Tusshar Kapoor and Antara Mali.
Produced by Ram Gopal Varma, the Factory product releases on July 16.
rediff.com offers a peek into the film.
Gayab is invisible
I didn't compare Gayab to
Mr India: Prawaal Raman
I can be unconventional:
Gayab: A preview
Tusshar: The invisible man
Friday, March 9, 2007
Gayab: 15 reels of invisible entertainment!
Sukanya Verma | July 16, 2004 00:44 IST
Gayab. One word. Five letters.
What does it mean? It means disappeared. Invisible.
What is it about? I have some theories.
It could be a loser's fairytale.
It could be the making of a superhero from a superzero.
It could be about psychoanalysing the behaviour of a social outcast.
Actually what it does is superficially skim past these topics.
It all begins one morning. You are led into Vishnu Prasad's (Tusshar Kapoor) indifferent, clumsy, insecure existence through cinematographer Pietro Zuercher's imaginative lens. Indifferent because no one notices him. Clumsy because he can't do anything steadily. Insecure because everyone can trick or tease him and get away with it.
In 15 minutes, director Prawaal Raman ensures he has established Vishnu's 'unwanted' status on screen and ample public sympathy off it.
Why is Vishnu Prasad so nervous? It's not his fault. It's hereditary. Scientifically speaking, he is a cross between an irritatingly dominant (mother, played by Rasika Joshi) and a painfully recessive (father, played by Raghuveer Yadav) gene. Miraculously enough, all the recessive genes fell into poor Vishnu's share.
Why does he turn invisible? Rejection. He has a crush on Mohini (Antara Mali), the girl who stays in his samne wali khidki (opposite window). Mohini apes the JLo brand of fashion, hangs around coffee shops and music shops, watches movies in multiplexes, surfs the TV, reads fashion magazines, and zooms in a Rover with her equally vain 'US returned' boyfriend Sameer (Ramman Trikha).
Vishnu accidentally winks at Mohini and predictably invokes Sameer's wrath. Unable to bear the humiliation of being insulted in front of his dream girl, Vishnu bursts into tears.
A crying Vishnu heads for some godforsaken beach only to bump into an enchanted statue. "Gayab kardo mujhe [Make me invisible]," he wails, holding the enchanted statue. Voila! Mr India is reborn. At first he hates the idea. But then he realises that turning invisible means lots of power. He doesn't give a damn about the advice Spider-Man got from his uncle: with great power comes great responsibility. He becomes super irresponsible and gets back at all those who troubled him.
Thereon, both Vishnu and the film lose focus.
When a character becomes invisible, you obviously expect tons of gags. In Gayab, no such thing happens. There's just one constant gimmick — objects flying in mid-air, which leads to a gaping bystander. Another minus is Amar Mohile's background score, which is a distraction and doesn't quite gel with the screenplay. Even during a funny scene, the background insists on being dramatic or thrilling.
While on negatives, here's more: It is hard to digest Mohini's unnatural change of heart from a vain creature to a sensible girl resolving to save the city. Also, Vishnu's excessively obsessive behaviour is vaguely justified towards the climax, making no sense.
What appeals is Tusshar Kapoor. He makes Vishnu Prasad come alive. He exudes vulnerability. He wears failure on his face, till he is endowed with superpowers, without looking conscious. He conveys the desperation and madness post-invisibility equally well.
His co-star Antara Mali does not impress. Her facial expressions are always exaggerated while her dialogue delivery has a 'put-on' tone to it. She also goes overboard with her scanty wardrobe. Truth be told, most of the exposure is quite unnecessary unless the idea is to make Vishnu come across as lecherous.
Gayab is an extension of the short story 'Stop', featuring Aftab Shivdasani and Ishaa Koppikar, in Darna Mana Hai. Both were directed by Prawaal Raman. Why Stop worked and Gayab doesn't is because of the duration. The latter doesn't have enough meat to hold its viewer for two and a half hours. The former made for an interesting 30 minute episode.
All said and done, Gayab offers 15 reels of invisible entertainment.
Cast: Tusshar Kapoor, Antara Mali, Raghuveer Yadav, Rasika Joshi, Ramman Trikha, Govind Namdeo
Director: Prawaal Raman
Producer: Ram Gopal Varma and K Sera Sera Productions
Music: Ajay Atul and Amar Mohile
The Rediff Interview / Prawaal Raman
'I never even thought of comparing Gayab to Mr India'
July 14, 2004
He loves The Godfather, Sholay, Cinema Paradiso and Gladiator. He can watch them again and again.
He doesn't want to turn invisible but as a kid he craved for the watch Anil Kapoor wore in Mr India to do the disappearing act.
He doesn't like talking about himself. Why? Because there is nothing interesting about it.
Call him arrogant or media shy, Prawaal Raman doesn't give a damn. The Darna Mana Hai director is more interested in knowing what the audience's reaction to his second film, Gayab, will be.
Discover more about this Ram Gopal Varma discovery in this conversation with Senior Correspondent Sukanya Verma.
Wasn't Gayab originally titled Vishnu Prasad Gayab Ho Gaya?
Only for a short span, because the character's name is Vishnu Prasad. [Otherwise] It was always called Gayab.
How did the idea of Gayab come about?
It came to Ramuji keeping in mind the [one of the] stories of Darna Mana Hai -- the Stop episode featuring Aftab Shivdasani. Suresh Nair of Bombay Times (The Times of India supplement) developed that particular story, which Ramuji gave to me. [Another writer] Kona Venkat, Suresh and I developed Gayab.
Is Gayab inspired by Hollow Man?
Not at all. The very fact that it deals with the hero being invisible, there would be buzz about it being inspired from Mr India to 10 other films which deal with invisibility of a hero. But this story line is totally different.
Why did you zero in on Tusshar for Vishnu Prasad's role?
He suited the character very well, which is a very clichéd answer. Secondly, his face carries the darkness and the pathos of a man who carries a past behind which is troubled. There is some sadness about his face, which I compare with Guru Dutt.
Was Tusshar reluctant to play a failure?
Not at all. The story is just not about a loser. The character just begins as a loser. But it's a very challenging role. It encompasses the growth of a failure because of the support system he gets in life. And that support system in Gayab happens to be the invisibility factor.
Does Vishnu Prasad misuse his powers?
At times, he does. He becomes invisible. After that, he only caters to himself. Any person who caters to himself will become a little selfish no doubt. Once a person is selfish, it's a chain reaction. It will give scope for evil things to do.
Does it have a horror element to it?
Not really. Everything has been treated in a very fun-loving way.
But does Gayab have dark humour?
The very fact that he [Vishnu Prasad] is a failure in life, his friends trouble him and people are laughing at him shows that the humour is dark. When a man slips on a banana and bystanders laugh is also dark humour.
The character has suffered a lot since the beginning of the film, so the humour is dark.
What's the USP of Gayab?
Its story line. The invisibility factor, simplicity of narration and lot of special effects.
How different was directing six stories in Darna Mana Hai from concentrating on one story in Gayab?
Same difference. It had six stories one ending. Gayab has one story one ending. [Laughs].
I don't compare the two. Both were challenging. At a given point, whichever film I am doing is most challenging to me, irrespective of how I treated it. The process is very momentary.
The synopsis of Gayab reads: And to top it all God made him (Vishnu Prasad) invisible. But Ram Gopal Varma is an atheist.
For our convenience of filmmaking, definitely, we do believe in God [Laughs]. Also, ghosts. We made Bhoot and Darna Mana Hai.
Are there any interesting anecdotes that you can recount while making Gayab?
Not really. We were too involved. It never became like a happy family. We were not madly in love with each other. It was like a normal shooting, very professional. We landed up completing the film the way we had planned.
Including the songs, it took 95 days to complete filming Gayab. It had a lot of special effects also, [so] I had to be extremely well planned.
What was producer Ram Gopal Varma's input in Gayab?
The inputs were throughout, right from very basic story line to screenplay to dialogues. I seek those inputs. If I don't get them, I won't be cool.
Many films with the invisibility theme have been made. Which ones have inspired you the most?
Mr India remains my all-time favourite. That's why while making Gayab, I never even thought of comparing my film to Mr India. It is a classic.
If a filmmaker is young, do people around him tend to take him for granted?
It's not about young or old, it's how well you know your job. It's not like if you're young, people won't listen to you. I have never had any problems.
In an earlier interview, you said you don't like talking about yourself because there is no story to tell. That's why you like creating stories?
Life is very exciting. I do what I want to. I make films. I am not a sad man with a story behind myself. I don't like talking about myself because I don't find anything interesting for me or anybody else.
How can you decide for others?
I decide for others. I shoot a film deciding for others [Laughs]. I like reading about people who talk about how they made it. But I can't romanticise the entire thing.
It's a conscious decision that I don't want to talk about myself. You can call it media shy, arrogance, (an) attitude problem or a way of remaining mysterious.
The Rediff Interview / Tusshar Kapoor
Tusshar Kapoor: If I work hard, I can do something unconventional
July 12, 2004
If Tusshar Kapoor turned invisible for one day he would "spend time with somebody I cant."
That's not all. He would also do things he is otherwise "inhibited about" first.
With a mischievous glint in his eyes, Tusshar wishfully adds, "I would find out all the ghaplas [scams] that happen within the industry. I would find out about distributors who aren't honest in their dealings and catch all the foul play within the industry".
Clearly, the invisibility bug has bitten this Kapoor. In his new film, Gayab, the actor plays a guy who has "nothing extraordinary about him". Till, of course, he turns invisible.
In an interview with Senior Correspondent Sukanya Verma, Jeetendra's soft-spoken son talks about his transformation into a "failure" for Prawaal Raman's Gayab and why he can't do with or without Bollywood.
How did you bag Gayab?
I had just come back from the first schedule of Khakee. I was just sitting in my room when I got a call from a distributor whom we know very well. He is a family friend who deals with [Gayab's creative producer] Mr [Ram Gopal] Varma . He told me Mr Varma is thinking about you for something. He wants to meet you. I said 'Yeah, anytime'. I didn't get a call for a week or two.
I went to see Bhoot for a trial show. I called Mr Varma to tell him that I really liked the film. That's when he told me 'I wanted to meet you. I am out of town now. I'll get back and call you'. Three days I got a message that I'd like to meet you in my office'. I came here [Varma's office, Factory]. That's when he told me about this idea [the plot of Gayab]. I said I was very keen. We had a couple of meetings after that and I was on board.
How would you describe your character in Gayab?
If you see the promos, they exactly summarise what my character is about. It's very different. The film is totally centred around my character called Vishnu Prasad. It's about his life and his experiences. He is very lovable. A character that evokes sympathy -- one that kids will really take to.
He is essentially, someone I would sum it up as, a failure. He is being rejected from all corners. The kind of rejection, which one would never want to face. That's when he reaches a breaking point in his life. Things really change for him.
And he turns invisible?
Uh, I wouldn't say exactly 'turns' invisible. Yes, there is the invisibility factor. But things happen to him in a very realistic manner. It's not like he finds this gadget or formula or something.
There is a supernatural element to Gayab?
Isn't Vishnu Prasad in Gayab is a complete loser? Even his appearance suggests…
[Interrupts]…That he is very common, very inconspicuous. He wouldn't stand out in a crowd. His biggest shame is that he is so common, so average. There is nothing extraordinary about him. He is your typical boring salesman whom you see every morning and don't want to attend to and you probably bang the door on his face. There's nothing special about him.
How did you go about creating your look in the film?
I worked on the look myself. I did a lot of research. I watched a lot of films. I looked through magazines about nerdy characters. I brainstormed a lot. I went through the Internet. I researched through books. Then I made certain sketches. I kind of designed a certain look for the character. I discussed with Ramuji [Ram Gopal Varma]. He gave his feedback to me. I tried out glasses. I tried out different hairstyles -- what kind of hair should this character have. And then we zeroed on in this particular look.
In a film industry where heroes are so conscious about their image, were you at any point reluctant to take up this role?
I was never apprehensive about being slotted in a certain image because this character is so strong. It leads so strongly towards that side of human personality. That one would get scared to play such a character. But it was too tempting an offer [to say no to].
I wanted to do something different. I needed a change of image. I was doing the conventional bit too often. I needed something experimental. I needed something that would challenge me, excite me, and spur me on to try and extract the juice out of the character in my performance. That's why I took it [Gayab] up.
If I work hard, I can do something unconventional. Like Khakee, people couldn't expect from me: playing a cop.
Tell us about your co-stars in Gayab.
I have had a really good time working with all of them. I have had some really good scenes with Mr Raghuvir Yadav [who plays Tusshar's father in Gayab, right] in this film. He is a fabulous actor. And there are some really good interactions between us, which people will really enjoy.
Antara [Mali] was also a blast [to work with]. My scenes with her are mostly very light and fun. She is a very intelligent and studied actress. She gets into the depth of her character and scene. That kind of motivates the other actor. She was a refreshing change from many other heroines I have worked who are not so interested.
How different is Prawaal Raman's style of directing a film different from say a Satish Kaushik or a Rajkumar Santoshi?
Satishji is a very inspired director. He likes to make his actors work very, very hard. And that is what is similar with Prawaal. He also doesn't compromise at all. Of course, Rajkumar Santoshi also [doesn't compromise].
They all have this similarity that they all want to get the best out. No scene is casual enough for them to take just lightly. They take everything very seriously.
What differentiates Prawaal [from Kaushik and Santoshi] is that he tries to present every scene very unconventionally, which I haven't experienced with many directors before this. Technically, he is very unique. His style, although commercial, earthy, takes you in another world. That's what makes him special.
On the other hand, despite this being his second film [the first was Darna Mana Hai], he has the knack of inspiring an actor without firing or screaming. He has a very positive temperament on the sets. Working with him has been a complete blast. I actually looked forwards to the shifts of Gayab.
Whenever I have shot for Gayab, it's been like a holiday. We haven't had fun as such [in the literal sense] on the set. The thrill of the work was so much, it seemed like we were on an adventurous trip.
What was it like working in a Ram Gopal Varma production?
The quality consciousness in Varma Productions is much higher than anywhere else. I think Khakee was another film I saw which had a lot of quality consciousness and aesthetic sense.
[During Gayab] Nothing was left loose. Look was important as well as the body language and the necessity of songs. Everything has to be just right. Everything is very classy. That is something I can vouch for, which I haven't seen in many producers and directors before this.
Working with Ramuji has given me an idea that every role I do now I'll go through these stages of working on the look, my body language and get more involved as far as my character is concerned.
It's like another school altogether. You come out learning so much.
Have you seen the finished version of Gayab as yet?
I haven't seen it one go. I have just seen while dubbing for the film.
Earlier you mentioned your performance in Khakee. You got good reviews for your performance in the film. Did you anticipate such a response?
I knew my work would be appreciated because Mr [Rajkumar] Santoshi's actors are always really liked. Their performances have always worked. But I didn't know [my] last scene in the film would make such an impact. That was really surprising and [at the same time] thrilling for me. I was really doubtful about that scene.
Khakee was a very good movie. That's something I really cherish. I got a lot out of that film: a lot of respect, a lot of benefits of smart presentation. As I was saying, no one could think of me playing an inspector but I did that with Khakee. Now with Gayab, it's something else. I don't think I am going to be stuck in any kind of a mould. After these two films, people are going to think, 'Look, we can experiment with him. We can make him do things we didn't think he could do.'
Did you feel you were getting stuck with the boy-next-door image?
Yeah, everybody wanted to make a Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai. Everybody wanted to repeat that. And I was getting bored. Every time I started work on a film, I was like 'Oh no, not again'. That same college thing, Switzerland song, foreign location and emotional scene in the end. That typical format of shaadi, baraat -- everyone trying to make a college romance like Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai that at the same time apes a Karan Johar film. That is something I wanted to get out of. I would love to do a song and dance, family-oriented college romance if it's made refreshingly and smartly. It has to be very well directed and a good banner.
Do you show your dad all your films?
Yeah. I think he has seen all my films.
Is he encouraging?
He [My father] is extremely encouraging. He really likes my work. He has never criticised me. And that is what I don't like. I like to be told what's not nice. He has always been very, very encouraging. Although he thinks I am over selective about my work. He says I should take up more work. You shouldn't be so choosy. You never know what works and what doesn't work.
We have a different approach towards certain aspects of filmmaking. More or less, he is very happy with the way I am conducting my career.
How has the going been from Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai to Gayab?
There have been ups and downs. It's been fun all the way. I have worked on films that haven't done well also. And I have worked hard on them. I have been more or less satisfied with my work. There's always been something I have gotten from every film, irrespective of whether it was a hit or a flop. It has helped me move forward.
I haven't jumped up after Mujhe Kucch Kehna Hai. But I haven't gone down either. I have maintained my position. I have gained respect with Khakee (left above). Now Gayab [after the promos came out] is also being liked.
It's been a smooth as well as bumpy ride. As they say, it's a big bad world of films. You can't do with it. You can't do without it.
Gayab is the story of a young man named Vishnu Prasad (Tusshar Kapoor).
He lacks self-confidence. He has an eye for trouble.
He has a nag for a mom (Rasika Joshi) and a timid man for a dad (Raghuvir Yadav).
The woman of his dreams (Antara Mali) doesn’t know he exists.
For the world he is as good as not there. And then he literally disappears.
Here's more on the man who disappeared!
Playing the boy next door must have taken its toll on Tusshar Kapoor. The actor attempted to get out of the rut by playing a rookie cop in Rajkumar Santoshi’s Khakee. Now the actor is experimenting again with Prawaal Raman’s Gayab.
Describing his role of Vishnu Prasad, Tusshar says, “He is essentially someone I would sum up as a failure. He is being rejected from all corners. The kind of rejection, which one would never want to face. That’s when he reaches a breaking point in his life. Things really change for him.”
Though the film didn’t do much to further her career, Antara Mali’s performance in Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon was impressive.
Now she plays the woman of a regular guy’s dreams in Gayab.
The film teams her with Tusshar Kapoor for the first time. The latter praises her saying, "She is a very intelligent and studied actress. She gets into the depth of her character and scene.”