Rattan seems to be quite the opposite of most writers — he’s hyperactive, talkative and excited. He confidently puts forth his ideas and points in rapid succession without any breaks or pauses. But underneath that façade is a “middle class Punjabi lad” with celluloid dreams and a gazillion stories to spin.
Born in Amritsar and having travelled all over the country because of his Air Force background, Rattan revealed that he was a backbencher in school who decided to dropout from the whole rigmarole of education, only to dive into the world of movies instead. “I am a cinephile who lives on a diet of at least two films a day,” he said. Language, according to Rattan, is not a barrier. He admitted to watching every kind of cinema and it is these sensibilities that took him to Mumbai where he assisted director Anubhav Sinha. “I made 40 music videos that also launched John Abraham and Bipasha Basu’s careers,” said Rattan, who has worked with writer Dilip Shukla, who has worked on projects such as Damini, Ghayal and Dabangg. Rattan has also written for television shows such as Piya Ka Ghar and Ek Chaabi Pados Main and was on board as a writer with Vikram Bhatt for 1920, Shaapit, Aagey Se Right, Phhir and Mumbai Salsa. “For ten years I struggled, lived in a chawl, stood in queues to get water and did all kinds of writing work,” shared Rattan.
But it was film editor Manish More, who encouraged him to write for Punjabi films. Rattan met filmmaker Navaniat Singh and Jimmy Sheirgill and the three hit off instantly, delivering hits such as Mel Karade Rabba, Jihne Mera Dil Luteya and Dharti. With each film Rattan explored human relationships, and added layers and characters. “Frank Capra, Billy Wilder and Woody Allen — these are my reference points as I love to bring comedy in tragedy,” said Rattan. His biggest hit, Jatt & Juliet, is a testimony to Rattan’s grasp on his subject of love and relationships. The simple Punjabi boy whose first job was in a showroom at Rs 1,200 a month still remembers the time when he would look at rich Punjabi boys flash their cars and mobiles. Therefore, his lead characters have a bit of a personal touch.
“All filmmakers bring that. Javed Akhtar brought his pain, poverty and anger, while Mahesh Bhatt incorporated his outlook towards relationships. In Jatt & Juliet, Fateh is like me — somebody with NRI dreams who wants to go to Canada, marry and make it big,” said Rattan.
Rattan adds that he also gives equal importance to the leading ladies, and Neeru Bajwa as Pinky in Jatt & Juliet proved that. Saadi Love Story, too, has the women take charge. Interestingly, his wife, Manila Rattan joins him as a screenplay writer on the film. On being quizzed about his decision to direct it too, Rattan said he just had to, and it was a challenge. For him, stories are “all over”, waiting to be told. “It took me 14 days to write Jatt & Juliet,” said Rattan, who is looking forward to his films (as scriptwriter) and the line-up includes Rangeelay, Jatt & Juliet 2 and Singh Versus Kaur. “Cinema is an improvement on life, and I love life,” said Rattan.