Interview Hindi

People discouraged me from making Chehre but Amitabh Bachchan was in my corner, says Rumy Jafry

The look and feel of the thriller, which also stars Emraan Hashmi, was designed for a big-screen release, says the writer-director. Chehre is set for release in theatres on 27 August.

Rumy Jafry

Keyur Seta

Director Rumy Jafry’s Chehre was all set to be released in April this year, but the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head around that time.

The thriller, which stars Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi, will now be released on 27 August as theatres in various parts of the country have reopened.

In an exclusive conversation with, Jafry said the past few months had been difficult for him. “It was challenging, depressing and exciting; there was a mix of emotions. Nobody had thought that such a time would come when everyone would be forced to stay home and life would come to a standstill. Man can’t win against nature and fate,” he said.

Like the film’s producer Anand Pandit, Jafry was always keen for it to be released in theatres. “We designed the film’s lighting, sound and look and choreographed the whole film keeping theatres in mind," he said. "Amitji [Bachchan] and Anandbhai [Pandit] always felt this should come out in theatres.”

Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi in Chehre

After writing a large number of David Dhawan movies in the early 1990s, Jafry gained a reputation as a comedy specialist. But with Chehre he is going on a different track as the film is an out-and-out thriller. Even as a director, Jafry has never tackled this genre before.

“I have written so many [comedy] films it’s like child’s play for me," he said. "So now I wanted to do something new and exciting. Today, people are finding it difficult to believe that I have made something like this.”

The filmmaker remembers how he was discouraged by some from taking a stab at the genre. “People stopped me, saying I was crazy to be making something like this, that I should stick to comedy,” he said. He was nervous about the outcome but said he has been in a relaxed state of mind ever since the trailer received positive response.

Amitabh Bachchan and Rumy Jafry on the sets of Chehre

Chehre is about an advertising professional (Hashmi) who participates in a mock trial with a group of retired criminal lawyers (Bachchan, Annu Kapoor, Dhritiman Chatterjee and Raghuvir Yadav) only to realize that it’s much more than a mere game.

Jafry wrote Chehre with Bachchan in mind. “It is Amitji’s greatness that he has this affection for me for years,” he said. “I had decided that I wanted to make a different kind of film and shock people into believing that Rumy Jafry can do this, too. In our industry, we get stamped as specialists of certain kinds of cinema. Amitji supported me. He said he was with me on this. Else, the film wouldn’t have got made.”

About working with Bachchan, he said, “I want him to live a thousand years and keep working with him and I want the same for the coming generations. It is an incredible experience working with him. He kept me relaxed and worked like a student.”

Jafry said he was also lucky to have got a group of veteran actors to play Bachchan’s friends. As far as Hashmi is concerned, he wanted a hero who is a star and also someone who fit the role and acted with discipline.

“I had never worked with Emraan before, but I had heard great things about him," the writer-director said. "From what I had seen of him on screen, I liked his style, eyes, mannerisms. So I felt he would fit the role. And he is non-interfering like Amitji." The film also stars Krystle D'Souza and Rhea Chakraborty.

Jafry felt the old enthusiasm he had when he first came to Mumbai from Bhopal decades ago returning during the making of Chehre. "I can say the second half of my life has just started now after the interval," he remarked. "In our industry, it is very important for a film to do well. For me, Chehre getting appreciated is very important. If this happens, I will be able to make more films on different subjects."

Emraan Hashmi and Krystle D'Souza in Chehre

Looking back on his journey of three decades, Jafry said it had been like a dream. “When I was in Bhopal, we hardly got to see films,” he said. “I came to Bombay to try my hand at filmmaking but I didn’t know anyone. I don’t know what kind of blessings I received from god that I got to enter the industry and spend all these years in it. I am lucky to have worked with the likes of Shammi Kapoor saheb, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan and Varun Dhawan, and today I am giving this interview.”

Jafry is writing a memoir about his journey in the film industry. “I have been told by Amitji and Aishwarya [Rai Bachchan] that I should write a book about my struggle from the time I came from Bhopal. It will take at least two years to write it all down. I keep writing it in instalments,” he said.

Chehre is also special for Jafry because he got to write a poem that is recited by Bachchan in a song from the movie. “We wanted Javed Akhtar to write that but owing to circumstances, I had to,” he said.