Abbas Tyrewala is not the first Indian director to pair his wife with an actor. For decades, the legendary V Shantaram directed his two wives, first Jayshree and then Sandhya in films co-starring him and other actors.
But, Abbas’s film tentatively titled 1-800-Love is a unique case. Here, for the first time in Indian cinema, Abbas directs his own wife Pakhi and that too in an intense love story, featuring Bollywood’s resident pin-up boy John Abraham.
To add to the intriguing scenario, there is the fact that Pakhi, who has written the screenplay, had a massive crush on John during college and wrote the film with him and herself in mind.
Abbas says, “There’s no denying the fact that Pakhi and John share a tremendous chemistry on screen. And I’m glad! Imagine, if they looked incompatible or anything less than made for each other! What would have happened to my film?”
The trick for Abbas was to leave his wife at home when he came on sets. “The girl I was directing in the film was not my wife. She was the actress chosen because she suited the role. Hats off to John and Pakhi for being such professionals.Yeah, initially I was a little apprehensive about it. But once the camera rolled Pakhi and I forgot our personal relationship”, informs the director.
John adds, “Pakhi has come out beautifully in the film. I still remember when Abbas came to narrate the film with this pretty petite girl, who was the film’s writer. I didn’t know she was the director’s wife. The way Pakhi narrated the character I knew she was the best person to play my romantic other in Abbas’ film. Now, after seeing the film, I know my instincts were right. No one could’ve played the part the way she did.”
The director was gracious enough to let John kiss his wife for the camera. John reasons, “It is an intensely romantic film. And the kiss is an integral part of romance. But the film is very clean, very sweet and innocent.”
Abbas is not the only director to direct his own wife in intimate scenes. Hollywood has such examples of artistic liberality.
1. John Derek directed his wife Bo Derek in a classic evergreen pose emerging in skimmy bikini from the sea in the film 10(1979).
2. In a classic case of spousal licence director Blake Edwards gave his prudish wife Julie Andrews a shocking new image in the film S.O.B (1981). He made the Sound Of Music diva reveal her breasts!
3. Sam Mendes takes the cake, though. In Revolutionary Road (2009), he directed his wife Kate Winslet with Leonardo di Caprio in one of the longest and most erotic lovemaking scenes ever filmed in a mainstream film.
4. Back home, B R Ishaara directed his wife Rehana Sultan in many sexually explicit films in the 1970s, their most celebrated collaboration being Chetna, where Rehana undressed almost completely for a scene with Anil Dhawan.
5. And then, there was Deepa Sahi being directed in a torrid love sequence with Shah Rukh Khan by her own husband Ketan Mehta in Maya Memsaab. Though all three parties passed off the rather-unconventional level of enthusiastic professionalism as what the script required, it later came to light that the love scene had been rigorously rehearsed in a hotel room before it was actually shot. Surely, this has to be the most committed team of on-screen passion providers to have ever visited our cinema.
-Subhash K Jha/ Sampurn Wire