How do you look at your formative years?
I was a normal kid from a simple family in Hazaribagh. I thought I would be a banker like my father, but soon realised I was not interested in a 9-5 job. I liked writing but never thought I would take it as a profession. I look back at my student life with utmost regret. In fact, I don’t even want to remember it. I went to DPS Bokaro and then completed my graduation from Ramjas College in Delhi University, but I have always been inactive. I was a shy backbencher and never participated in anything.
As a filmmaker, what compels you to tell the stories you do?
I tell stories that affect the world in and around us. Something may inspire me and I would want to talk about it. Aamir was one such story. I was writing for a living in 2004-2005. Aamir was written in 2006, shot in 2007 and released in 2008. After 9/11, the world changed and many stories with pro-active roles came in. In No One Killed Jessica, the social revolution that arose was inescapable. I wanted to explore these arenas.
How important is it for you to draw the masses?
I want to strike a balance between entertainment and engagement. My movies could be thrillers or comic, fact or fiction, but I want active participation of the audience in it. We make it for them — entertainment is an objective — but I want a dialogue with them.
Has the audience come of age?
They are the single variable that determines the course of the industry. They have grown and have started to contribute to meaningful cinema. They encourage us to tell different stories as well as generate revenues.
Is the 100 crore club a sham or do you believe in it?
Every filmmaker wants to make money, and it helps the industry as well. At the same time, I want films like Paan Singh Tomar to also earn big bucks. If something of quality breaks into the Rs 100 crore club, it’d be perfect.