Sonam Nair is all set to burst onto the scene with Gippi, her first film as a director. She’s worked previously as the assistant director on Wake Up Sid, and now she’s back with what promises to be a fun, fresh, young film. We’ve loved the promos so far so we couldn’t resist sitting down and discussing everything Gippi with her, and of course we’ve got a transcript of our conversation for you!
Team MissMalini: Tell us what Gippi is about.
Sonam Nair (SN): Gippi is about this awkward 13-year-old teenager, who’s overweight and not comfortable in her body – especially because, one she’s overweight, and two she’s going through puberty. So she’s going through lots of physical and tempermental changes and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. She’s not her own biggest fan, basically. The film shows her journey of a few months in her life, when she finally becomes comfortable with herself and start to like herself.
Team MM: Where did the inspiration from this topic from?
SN: It’s from my life. I have put in a lot of my own life, the characters in my life at that point and incidents from school and such.
Team MM: The promos of Gippi look very refreshing and new, but did it ever worry you to make your debut with a film that’s slightly off-beat?
SN: I think Gippi got produced because it was offbeat. If it was just a generic story, I don’t think people would’ve given me a break, because I wasn’t a very experienced person or somebody who had a lot of contacts. So because the script was fresh and new and something that excited Karan (Johar), it got produced. So I can’t go against it and say that was a risk… it was actually the best thing.
Team MM: But did you ever feel the pressure to maybe rope in a star for a song or cameo?
SN: No, it’s… if you see the film, it’s very real and normal and there are very relateable things happening. If you put any star, it becomes, you know… a “film.” I didn’t want people to think of it as a film, I wanted them to think that they’re watching real people in their daily lives.
Team MM: What we liked best about the Gippi promo is that it doesn’t shy away from talking about things that are still considered taboo. Do you think this is a new era for filmmaking, where movies like this can be made and accepted?
SN: I don’t know, I feel that people are still shocked by it. I hope after this people can talk about a few of these things that I’ve brought up, but still it’s not reached a comfortable zone where people are accepting of it. It is shocking… for some, it’s a good shock, and for some it’s a bad shock. Of course it’s a new era of filmmaking and new stories are coming up, but I have faced so far in response to the trailer a bit of a shock… like “arey, aapne yeh sab… periods dal diya, bra dal diya.” I hope that after the film people will realize these are normal things.
Team MM: Yeah, everyone talks about these things.
SN: Yeah, everybody talks about it! Everybody goes through it. We just don’t talk about it in films. So hopefully after this, they will.
Team MM: What was it like for you, working with a fairly new star cast, since – in your previous film – you worked with two very well-known names, Ranbir and Konkona? [Sonam was the assistant director on Wake Up Sid.]
SN: I think it was a good thing for me to start off with newcomers, because I was young, not-so-strict, not too professional-seeming… so it would’ve gone against me [if I worked with established stars] because people would have not taken me seriously. I feel like – I don’t know, but I think it was better for me to have people who were even less-experienced than I was to [laughs] boss around. They always took me seriously and looked up to me because I was double their age.
Team MM: So with such a young cast, it must’ve been a riot on sets. Can you tell us one fun incident that happened?
SN: I think whenever we were shooting songs, we were just having fun on sets. There was no choreographer, we were just having fun, so a lot of times we’d just be like “aajo, apna step dikhao.” So those days were really fun, because we got kids from Shimla, real kids, not actors… and we’d ask them what they know and they’d be like. We put real people doing their own thing on camera, which was really fun. I think those were the best days.
Team MM: One thing you learned while shooting this film? One lesson you’d take away?
SN: On a serious note, I think I learned the most during the editing stage. While shooting and while writing, I was just having a lot of fun and enjoying the process. But when the footage came, I thought, “Now I have to get serious and make a film out of this, it’s not just fun.” So I think I learned the most about how films should be constructed and made during editing. Now I feel much more wise. After the shoot, I felt, “Did I learn anything? I don’t know what I’ve learned.” [laughs]
Team MM: What are you working on next? Anything you can tell us about?
SN: I have a few ideas, but it’s up to Karan to choose one. But they’re all in a young, fun space for sure… in the Gippi zone but maybe a little older.
Team MM: Is that something you’re drawn towards?
SN: It just comes easily to me, especially to write it. Those are things I’ve been through and I find funny.
Team MM: And who are your favourite actors/actresses in the industry?
SN: I obviously love Ranbir Kapoor. And I really like Parineeti Chopra and Alia Bhatt.