Marriage, Jane Austen never go out of fashion: Rajshree Ojha
New Delhi: Matchmaking is the favorite pastime of married women in India but what happens when a high society 20-something girl, who is otherwise clueless about love, tries to play cupid?
That`s what inspired director Rajshree Ojha to turn Jane Austen`s `Emma` into a Bollywood rom-com with Abhay Deol as Mr Knightley and Sonam Kapoor as the title heroine in `Aisha`
The director says she blended Austen`s `Emma` into a story of a contemporary girl, whose constant matchmaking often leads to hilarious situations.
"I am trying to do something new with `Aisha`. She is a young, independent and fashionable girl. She believes that she is doing good to the society by making two people fall in love. She is always trying to find the right match. But she is completely clueless about where she belongs," Ojha told reporters.
The director, whose off-beat 2007 film `Chaurahein` starring Zeenat Aman, Victor Banerjee and Soha Ali Khan was also inspired by Nirmal Verma`s work, feels there is nothing beautiful than a well adapted literary work.
"I always wanted to do a Jane Austen novel and there is no better way to make a debut in Bollywood than with rom-com. Emma had always fascinated me so I started developing a story around it and pitched it to various and met one actor who absolutely loved it and that was Sonam Kapoor," Ojha says.
`Aisha`, which hits theatres on August 6, has been produced by Sonam`s sister Rhea Kapoor and PVR Pictures.
The "30 something" as Ojha puts herself has met enough matchmakers in her life to get a perspective on the whole marriage business in India.
"Matchmaking is very prevalent in our society. Not only the society women but young college girls too try their hands at it. When you hit 30s like I have, people are like `Oh, are you single? When are getting married? That`s why the subject attracted me," Ojha adds.
Austen has always fascinated filmmakers and `Emma`, a story about a rich and spoiled girl Emma Woodhouse, who overestimates her matchmaking abilities and meddles without realising the repercussions, is no exception.
The story has inspired many films including Alicia Silverstone starrer (1995) film `Clueless and a 1996 movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow as the title character.
Ojha understands that her film, which is set in the rich and class conscious world of Delhi, will be compared with other versions.
"I am prepared for all the comparisons that are going to come my way but `Aisha` is very Indian. If you remember Jane Austen said `Emma` is a heroine only she is going to love. As a filmmaker when I read something I imagine it and that inspires me to make a film. A good literature, if you adapt it well makes a very good film," says Ojha.
Abhay Deol, who is the poster boy of different cinema in Bollywood, will be seen playing a romantic role for the first time after his debut `Socha Naa Tha`. It will be Sonam`s fourth release and her pairing with Abhay is already creating buzz.
"When we wrote the script, we thought about Abhay. He is a friend and was very open to the idea of playing Knightley. Interestingly, he played the role exactly the way I wanted. It was really easy to work with him. Sonam is a happy-go-lucky girl. She is an avid reader and was very enthusiastic about the idea of playing Emma," the director says.
It is one of the most stylish projects to come from Bollywood in recent times and fashion plays a very important role in the setting of the movie.
"When I told the story to Rhea and Sonam I had fashion in mind. It was a fashion to create the character of a young girl. But as the journey began fashion became huge because we wanted `Aisha` to be every girl`s dream and decided to do the film in a colour palate," she says adding that she opted for Delhi because modern and tradition fuse together very beautifully here.
The director is writing another project, an original period piece, which is based in the 60`s.