3 Storeys
Actors Richa Chadha, Masumeh Makhija, Pulkit Samrat, Renuka Shahane, Aisha Ahmed, Ankit Rathi and director Arjun Mukerjee at the trailer launch of her upcoming film "3 Storeys" in MumbaiIANS

An upcoming Bollywood film, 3 Storeys has already piqued the interests of the audience, as it tells three mysterious tales of intertwined lives in a Mumbai chawl (a large building divided into many separate tenements, offering cheap, basic accommodation to laborers). The film directed by Arjun Mukerjee stars Richa Chadha, Pulkit Samrat, Sharman Joshi, Renuka Shahane, Ankit Rathi, Aisha Ahmed, Masumeh Makhija and is produced by Ritesh Sidhwani, Priya Sreedharan, and Farhan Akhtar. The movie will be hitting the theatres on March 9.

In an exclusive interview with International Business Times, India, director Arjun Mukerjee spoke at length about his film 3 Storeys, the characters in the film, Renuka Shahane's comeback and more.

Excerpts from the interview:

International Business Times: The movie is set in a small community. Did it actually feel like one when you were shooting the film?

Arjun Mukerjee: When you make a feature film, the crew spends a lot of time with each other for many weeks, and on this film, everyone surrendered to the story and had the common goal of making a good film, so there was definitely a feeling of a community and camaraderie in the unit.

IBT: The trailer for the film shows it has many layers of romance, suspense, and drama all at the same time. How would you define 3 Storeys?

Arjun: It is a bit like an onion where many layers are peeled before getting to the heart of the matter. Human beings are complex creatures wearing many masks and over the course of the film, many masks are removed and the truth slowly emerges.

IBT: Each character shown in the film appears to be complex, do you think the characters will be relatable to the audience?

Arjun: Absolutely. I feel that is the crux of storytelling, whether the story is set in a chawl, or in outer space, or is even about a robot like in Wall-e. Empathy for the characters is crucial.

IBT: What's the best thing you liked about the story when you first read the script?

Arjun: I have always been fascinated by the ability of human beings to effortlessly and seamlessly wear many masks and how they change it during the course of their daily chores. We have different masks for our colleagues, friends, superiors, subordinates, clients, the household help, and it changes for a Bombay kaali peeli driver and for a London cabbie. This amazing chameleonic ability makes us complex, and often, fake. And then there is love - love has the power to make us shed our masks and be who we really are.

This is what really attracted me to Althea Kaushal's script, which has three intertwined love stories, that constantly peels away the layers, the masks and shows people the real you. All one has to do is push the envelope a little.

IBT: Did you face any problems while directing the film?

Arjun: A feature film is a large and complex animal, and problems will always crop up in any such an enterprise, but that is really par for the course. I suppose the biggest problem was finding the perfect location, as the chawl itself is a major character in the film - a Pandora's Box of sorts.

IBT: How was it like to work with debutant actors in the film?

Arjun: It was a calculated risk to work with debutant actors as I needed freshness and innocence for the two younger protagonists. I think it paid off very well, and the extensive acting workshops we had with Atul Mongia really helped to make life on set smooth with Ankit Rathi and Aisha Ahmed.

IBT: Tell us a bit about Richa Chadda and Pulkit Samrat's roles in the movie.

Arjun: While Richa's role is relatively small in terms of duration, the impact she has on the story is very large. Pulkit's character is very important and quite different from what we are used to seeing him play in the past. He has an inherent "swag" which the story did not demand, so seeing him suppress that in this new avatar will be quite a treat. He is a fine actor, and he slipped into the character with ease.

IBT: Renuka Shahane is making a comeback almost after a decade. Was she your first choice for the role and how important is her role?

Arjun: There was no first choice really - we knew it was always going to be tough to find a great actor for a tough role that goes through many age changes in the story. We were lucky to find her eventually, and her acting skills and warmth on set made working with her a joy. Her role is extremely important and she plays a pivotal part in the film.

IBT: Sharman Joshi appears in two avatars in the trailer, can you explain more about his character?

Arjun: Well, it is not really two avatars technically, but he plays a younger and older version of the same character with an 8 year age gap. He has a critical role in a heart-wrenching love story about loss and longing.

IBT: What are your future projects?

Arjun: I am working on two scripts with a couple of talented young writers, and also playing around with an idea for an episodic docu-drama. However, it is too early to talk about these in detail.