He's 26; and cute enough to be an actor but he chooses to be behind the camera. He is the same age as his mentor Karan Johar was, when he made his first movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Ayan Mukerji comes from a film family. His father is yesteryear actor Deb Mukherji. His family owns Filmalaya Studio, and he is related to Kajol and Rani. He is now he is waiting with bated breath to show the world his own movie — Wake up Sid starring Ranbir Kapoor and Konkana Sen Sharma, that releases on October.
Here's chatting with the likeable and honest Ayan over a cuppa steaming coffee…
How did Wake up Sid happen?
Films were always in my genes, but I never wanted to be an actor. I assisted Ashutosh on Swades and later Karan on Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. It was a learning experience for me. And then I took a three-month break. I went to New York, and just did time pass. When I returned, I cut myself from the world and started writing Wake up Sid. I had butterflies in my stomach when I took the script to Karan and showed it to him. But he loved it and said he wanted to produce it.
Is it true that your first introduction to Karan Johar was when you sent him a text message while drunk?
(sheepishly) Yes, I wanted to work with him. I saw Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, and then saw it everyday for a week. I really wanted to work with him. I had my number on my cell, and one night when I was high, I sent him a message. I just said honestly what
came to my mind. And he replied saying something vague. Three days later, I was meeting Pooja Shetty for coffee and Karan joined her. That's when I told him that I was the one who sent him the message.
Is Ranbir's character based on you?
A lot of Wake up Sid has come from friends and people I know and have hung out with. There's this space I lived in for a few years that I have tried to recreate in the film.
Was it easy to get Ranbir on board?
I didn't have him in my mind when I wrote the film but after it was ready, I could not think of anyone else in that role. I was very nervous about meeting Ranbir but once I started narrating the film, I got completely over that. Halfway through, he
told me he found it good, and stepped out for a smoke. Once I finished the story, he told me he would do the movie. That was a great day for me.
What about Konkona?
Karan thought of Konkona when he read the script and Ranbir too agreed she fit the part. She's one of the most natural actors we have around so it was like icing on cake to have her in the film. Both Ranbir and Konkona are extremely professional and
even though they haven't worked together before, there was no awkwardness. They both are extremely comfortable in their spaces.
Anyone in particular you would want to show Wake up Sid?
(thinks hard) My parents, of course, because they haven't watched it. Then Shah Rukh Khan, because he's someone I have admired. I remember working with him in Swades as an assistant director and got so much to learn from him. I would definitely want him to watch my film.
But you know he doesn't watch other people's films...
I know. But he is on my wishlist
So, is SRK your favourite actor?
He was. But now I think it is Ranbir.
What are your favourite Hindi movies?
They would have to be Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dil Chahta Hai and Rang De Basanti. I am a product of the '90s so I don't know what came out earlier.
Was it difficult for you to direct a pair that has done few films before, while you were a novice?
No. I think Ranbir's extremely hard working and has super work etiquette on the sets. We both share an amazing rapport. I can easily say that he was the only person on the sets who I could get away by being rude to.
How much did you get paid for the film?
Karan was very kind to me. I didn't quote anything. I think he paid me decently but I have already spent all the money I earned. I bought a friend of mine a plasma TV, he was very helpful during the making. Then I bought two tickets for my friend in Toronto to come spend time with me. And just hanging with friends etc. So I have blown up spending all the money I was paid to make this film.
What do you plan to do after the film's release?
I want to disappear for a while and then later make another movie.
What if the film is not accepted?
I will be crushed if Wake Up Sid doesn't do well.