Aanand Rai on criticism around 'Atrangi Re':  As long as no one is indifferent to my film I'm fine

Written By: Subhash K Jha
New Delhi Published: Dec 29, 2021, 02:05 PM(IST)

Aanand L Rai Photograph:( Twitter )

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Critics are  either  loving it or hating it Aanand Rai’s unconventional  love story 'Atrangi Re'.He says he fine with the divided opin

Critics are  either  loving it or hating it Aanand Rai’s unconventional  love story 'Atrangi Re'.He says he fine with the divided opinions. “As long as no one is indifferent to it, I am fine.When I   set  off to make this film I  was not thinking  of  how people would react. I never do. I cannot be tied down  to expectations, mine or others. I have to do what I  have to do. I had to make a film about this girl who cannot be forced to conform.For the  longest time, I wanted to do a film on the father-daughter  theme. When my writer  Himanshu Sharma came up with this idea I knew I had to make this film.”

As Rinku, Sara Ali Khan is  all over the place.And that’s the way Aanand wanted  it. “I wanted that uncontrollable personality. That’s why she was cast. I must say it was a delightful experience working with her and with Akshay Kumar and Dhanush who are quite easily among the best talent of Indian cinema. Incidentally, I didn’t know that Rinku was Sara’s grandmother Sharmila Tagoreji’s nickname. Sara told me during the shooting. She was  very kicked about it.”

I suspect Aanand wrote Dhanush’s character as a Tamilian to accommodate Dhanush?

Aanand can’t stop singing Dhanush and Akshay  Kumar’s praise. “Dhanush is  a marvel of nature. What he has brought to 'Atrangi Re' is beyond anything I expected.As for Akshay, you know, like me , he doesn’t think about himself. He thinks  only  about the film.I didn’t have to convince him to do the role . He wanted  to be part of 'Atrangi Re'. I wanted a certain magic in the  character he  played. Akshay has brought in that magic.”

People  are wondering  how and why Aanand has shown groom-kidnapping  in Bihar  in this day and age when it has long been abolished. Aanand  in his defence says, “But where have I said that my film is set in present  times? My films  never follow a timeline. In my film the  groom kidnapping  and what follows,  happens. This is  the world I wanted to create with my writer Himanshu Sharma.You may  have creative  and historic quibbles with my world. But I  think discussion is  a healthy part of  any creative endeavour. I am glad people are  talking about 'Atrangi Re', good or bad. I’d be worried if they had  nothing to say.”

The  film addresses  the very serious issue of schizophrenia.And yet nowhere is that word mentioned. Aanand says he  wanted it that way. “If as  you  say it is schizophrenia(that one of  the protagonists suffers from)  then  the people  around her  do  not recognize it  by  that name.Her grandmother,played by Seema Biswas,calls it madness.  The  characters in the  film  have probably never heard of schizophrenia. I  wanted it to be that way. Early when I had  just started shooting Atrangi I showed some rushes to  a friend who laughed  and cried.He confessed  he felt guilty  about laughing at the  mental disorder of  a  character.  But the laughter is not meant to  take  away  from seriousness of  the situation.  It is  meant to take away the sting from tragedy.”

As for  charges of trivializing mental  disorder, Aanand shrugs,  “I am  used  to such accusations. When my Raanjhanaa was  released I was accused of legitimizing stalking.These things  don’t bother me. I won’t stop making the  films I want to. I won’t live in  the fear of failure. For half my life I was frightened.  I am not going to be  frightened as a filmmaker.I want to make the  films that will be discussed  long after I am gone.”

In the end-credits of 'Atrangi Re' Aanand has paid his team members A R Rahman, Irshad Kaamil,(cinematographer) Pankaj  Kumar,(editor) Hemal Kothari  and writer Himasnhu Sharma a tribute by designating  'Atrangi Re' as their film?

Aanand says he hadn’t planned this as a  gimmick  to impress the audience on how generous he was. “I genuinely feel the film couldn't have been made without them. Rahman Sir’s music takes my film to another level.I told him I didn’t want  single songs that  would go up the charts. I wanted a soundtrack album where  the  music and songs  carry  the story forward.

Any regrets  about 'Atrangi Re' not being able to release in movie theatres? “Of course I wanted it released in theatres.That’s where 'Atrangi Re' belongs. Having said, I don’t think  there was a choice in the matter. The OTT platform doesn’t diminish  the impact of my film.” 

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