Post the release of Atrangi Re, Bollywood director Aanand L. Rai talks about his passion for making love stories and the projects he's looking forward to.
Excerpts from an interview
What makes for the ideal love story recipe?
The ideal thing is the willingness to go pure, honest, and selfless. These are the crucial ingredients that one needs to tell a love story. You can't promise, but the only thing you can say is that I will try my best to be in that space and be at my purist best when I am narrating the story.
The most difficult part when you are telling a love story is that you have to defy logic. In today's time, we are all victims of this. We are looking for logic in everything, and we are not ready to trust each other. And love is the only thing that can happen without any reason. If there is logic, you cannot fall in love wholeheartedly. So, the ingredients of being a little selfless and unconditional as a storyteller are also needed. You have to be in that space when you are working on a love story. It takes a lot of strength to do that.
Has there been a shift in the way we tell love stories now? Has our concept of love reduced to just love triangles?
There is a definite shift. As human beings, we are going through a phase. It is not just about pandemic but also otherwise. Like I said before, we are not ready to have faith in each other. And this is a phase. Why do I call it a phase? Because I know sooner or later, we are humans and we will find our right path. Right now, we are in a more tangential space. So, in these times, I feel more responsible when I am telling a love story because it takes a lot of guts to come up with something that is so layered, human and non-mechanical.
Today, we have become habitual of the mechanism of things, and we have put a particular structure to everything. But feelings are something you cannot define. How would you define I love you? Now, we say I love you so often that we have lost the real meaning of it. It is so unfortunate! So, till we discover it all back, we have to hold on to something. For me, it is my stories, and I am holding on to them.
Tell me, how did the concept of Atrangi Re come to your mind? What inspired you to tell the story?
So, the basic seed, on its core, I wanted to deal with the father-daughter relationship in a very different way. I wanted to tell a love story with the parallels of this relationship. I knew from day one that this would be a complicated one, and it would be a task. But that was my creative urge to jump into this ocean of emotion and extract something which could satisfy me as a maker.
Which other actors did you consider for Atrangi Re other than Dhanush? Why did he make the cut given that other Hindi speaking actors, too, could have been featured?
In our heads, Himanshu and I had cast Dhanush in 2014, when the idea struck. After Raanjhanaa, we didn't start working on it, but Dhanush was the first actor to be cast in the film.
What are the emotions going through your mind right now?
It is like how it happens after giving your board exams when you really don't know what you have to do now. You are in a little trance. It feels exactly like when my CBSE 12th board exam is over, I got my marks, and I was always waiting for this time when I won't have to study. If you ask me honestly, I don't know what to do. I am overwhelmed, and I am very happy that the film has reached the audiences' hearts. It is very overwhelming for me. When I'm very happy or when I'm very relaxed, I want to sleep. So, I am very sleepy these days and am taking long naps. It is great to read reactions. I am happy to know the story is reaching where it has to reach.
What's next for you?
I don't have the correct frame of mind to talk about my next. Right now, I don't want to talk about it. It has more to do with the director in me, not the producer. As a producer, I am very busy. We are working on a couple of films, and one is going on floors very soon. So, the producer inside me is very active, but the director inside me is lazy. But I am enjoying this phase.
Could you tell us more about your upcoming projects, including Action Hero, Good Luck, Jerry or Raksha Bandhan?
So, what we are trying to do in our production house is to do varied work. We are working on different stories that keep us on our toes every time, whether Action Hero, Good Luck, Jerry or Raksha Bandhan. So, we have this line-up. What is very exciting is every time we get on the floors there is something new for us. We don't want to keep it easy for us. So, like good students, we get up, start working, and start learning. It is great to see our audience also gearing up for good stuff. They're also hungry for good content, which is very exciting. It makes the journey interesting. So, we know more than us the audience has raised to the bar in terms of quality, and we are working hard to deliver it.