Nitesh Tiwari: “The only pressure is to be able to live up to audience’s expectations”

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The weight of expectations rests on the able shoulders of director Nitesh Tiwari as he returns to the big screen three years after giving Bollywood its biggest hit, ‘Dangal’ (2016). But box-office numbers have never been his barometer; he is only too happy to tell stories that move him. “The only pressure is to be able to live up to audience’s expectations,” says the director as he teams up with Sushant Singh Rajput and Shraddha Kapoor for Chhichhore, a campus drama inspired by his student days at IIT Bombay.

“The very thought of bringing my college years on screen excited me,” gushes Tiwari, before adding, “The idea was not to show a montage of fun days, but to tell a story with a purpose. While writing the film, I realised how young minds are impressionable at that stage, and actually find their purpose during those years. Some of the nicknames that I have used in the film are that of my seniors and batchmates.”

No sooner than the trailer dropped online yesterday than comparisons with Bollywood’s iconic college capers — ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar’ (1992) and ‘3 Idiots’ (2009) — were made, reports Mid Day. “Good campus dramas remind the audience of their college days, and that is the only common factor between Chhichhore and the other films. The story [deals with] a topic that hasn’t been explored earlier.”

Since the drama spans decades, Tiwari says roping in young crop of stars, including Rajput and Kapoor, was a safe bet. “We thought that actors in their 30s would fit the bill as they are [malleable] — they can lose weight and start looking like college students. Similarly, if they gain weight, they can effortlessly look like middle-aged people. We also studied how people age — be it greying or loss of hair.”

Producer Sajid Nadiadwala says, “Even though friendship has been captured in many stories in Bollywood, I believe it is a lesser-explored subject. Chhichhore is youthful yet mature in its text. Nitesh has added his own charm to the film.”

‘Chhichhore’ releases later in August.

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