Bollywood directors Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee and Anurag Kashyap came together to film one movie with four different stories in Bombay Talkies. But they weren’t sure that they were going to be able to pull it off — especially landing mega-director Johar. “I was actually hoping that they would ask me,” Johar told Uinterview exclusively at the Cannes Film Festival, “and I said that if I immediately agreed, it would look like I was too eager.”

Bombay Talkies celebrates Indian cinema while also welcoming in a new and more modern era of cinema. The stories in the film — Star by Banerjee, Sheila Ki Jawaani by Zoya Akhtar, Murabba by Kashyap and Ajeeb Dastaan Hain Yeh by Johar, all tell emotional and powerful moral stories. Along with great directors, Bombay Talkies also joins together some of Bollywood’s brightest stars with special appearances from Farhan Akhtar, Katrina Kaif and Vidya Balan.

Bombay Talkies premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last week.

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Q: Where did the idea come from to make 'Bombay Talkies - a movie with four stories and four directors? - Uinterview

ANURAG: Because the producer Ashi Dua, I knew, worked with me on some other projects, she came up with this idea and she gave me this idea and she said, 'We don'€™t make films like this anymore.' I thought it was a great idea and I immediately jumped on it, and I started making a list of characters and in the first list we did not put his name [Karan Johar] because he was like too huge! But he came in and joined in and pulled our level up. DIBAKAR: What he means is that Karan is kind of his strongest Bollywood presence there is, and we were doing something that I think was independent and then Karan was, he actually wanted to be a part of it, but the secret is... Tell them how you played hard to get even though you wanted to get in so badly. KARAN: I was actually hoping that they would ask me, and I said that if I immediately agreed it would look like I was too eager. But then finally, when it actually came down to whether I should do it or not, I was always dying because I really wanted to be part of this and I just felt it would be great to come on board and do something unusual. And I’m a big fan of each one of their individual work, and I think that more than the dramatic journey of it, it was the most fun we’ve had at the movie.

Q: What was the inspiration for each of your short films within the film? - Uinterview

KARAN: Mine is really about a marriage -€” a troubled marriage of a man'€™s repressed sexuality and how a young boy walks into this marriage and changes their emotional dynamic. And it ends with a kind of sad, but commentary on what the lack of truths can do to the essence of a relationship, so for me basically, that'€™s the plot. There'€™s a little old Indian soul music that runs down the narrative, which kind of binds it all together. DIBAKAR: See, all of us had this kind of dream of let’s do something in cinema. And when we say cinema, the relation is far different from what it is for a human being in the West. When I heard about this project, I remembered this story by Satyajit Ray, one of the most famous filmmakers from India of all time, and he was also a very big writer for fiction for young adults, and I read it when I was a 13-year-old boy and it kind of haunted me. It’s about a defeated guy who everyone sees as a loser and it’s about the highlight of his day when he is actually suddenly almost shanghaied into doing the walk on part on a film set on a film shoot that is happening in public, and he is up against one of the biggest stars and it is his one moment and shot for glory and fame. And it'€™s about how he redefines his life in certain ways and it'€™s just about that one day. It'€™s not something huge, which are what short stories should be mostly about, and I thought it was a very nice comment on how cinema is something much much bigger than something you can just teach. ANURAG: I am obsessed with the story of Murabba and Vijay and how he’s on a journey to fulfill his father'€™s wish to get Amitabh Bachchan to bite into his murabba, this Indian delicacy, so that his father can have the rest of his life, that would become like a nectar of life.

Q: You are at the Cannes Film Festival now. What can Bollywood teach the rest of the international film industry? - Uinterview

DIBAKAR: We know our part, and we can teach the world our part. ANURAG: There is one big thing that India can teach the rest of the world, and that is that Indians can see for the rest of the world. They have that seat and can feel for the rest of world; the complete rest of the world doesn’t often see in that perspective.