"I know people would be curious to know what we're making together. That would be a big USP for me. Shahid has great potential. People have always seen him as a chocolate-box hero. But in Kaminey we could see another side of him," Pankaj told IANS.
"Shahid's USP are his dancing skills and fluent diction. For Mausam, I required an actor with range. I've a gut feeling my son is going to surprise not just the audience but also me," he added.
Pankaj says that Shahid wanted to work him. "The idea was to do something meaty and challenging. We should be starting in another two-three months. We're into pre-production. I've written a lot of scripts which I couldn't direct and could only star in. When Shahid became an actor, he expressed a desire to be directed by me, I thought it'd be wonderful to work with my own son.
"But I signed him only after I saw the potential in him. We've been working on the script for three years. Meanwhile, a really wonderful thing has happened. Shahid became a big star. I'm very proud of him as his father. And Shahid's stardom is a happy happening for Mausam."
The original plan was to only direct the film and let Shahid take the lead. But now giving in to pressure, Pankaj has decided to make an appearance in his directorial debut.
"It would be an Alfred Hitchcockian kind of fleeting appearance. But I'd largely like to concentrate on making the film and stay behind the camera," he said.
The actor, who recently wowed the audiences with his performances in films like Maqbool, Dharm and The Blue Umbrella, refuses to divulge details about his directorial debut.
"It's a love story and we don't want any of the details being picked up by other filmmakers. I plan to bring my own sensibilities together with Shahid's," said Pankaj, who doesn't like being labelled an offbeat actor.
"It's rather sad that I've been dubbed an offbeat actor. But whenever given an opportunity I've done mainstream cinema. I've nothing against commercial cinema as long as the rendering of the story is sensible.
"I've learnt so much watching the commercial greats. I hope to use all that I've learnt from them into my own Mausam. If the producers are spending crores on my film I better get it back for them."
Incidentally, the title Mausam may change. "We'll try and find an alternative name. I know the association with the film by Gulzar saab called Mausam is too strong. The format of that film was inspired by Ingmar Bergman's Wild Strawberries. That Mausam is far superior to what I'm trying to achieve in my first film as director."