For Munish Bhardwaj’s directorial debut, Moh Maya Money, a suspense thriller starring Ranvir Shorey and Neha Dhupia in the lead roles, which releases this Friday (25 November), demonetisation comes at a rather opportune time.
The film was conceptualised and shot much before the country was swept by the current note ban tide, but it (presciently enough) tells a relevant story, exploring corruption and malpractices in the real estate industry. So even though the entertainment industry has been affected (just as every other business and individual in the country has) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation drive, Shorey and Dhupia think Moh Maya Money couldn’t have been timed better.
On the other hand, there's the fear that the current financial scenario will affect their film's box office collections — just as Rock On 2 and Force 2 were affected.
“Actually, it’s a double-edged sword. People think that they don’t have enough disposable income which is not true, they are mixing things up. It’s just that cash in hand has dropped. Everybody has money, demonetisation has not affected you and me. People may not come in large numbers to theatres, but yes, everybody is talking money, the film’s also talking money which is a huge coincidence. It’s like coming out with a love story around Valentine’s Day. The topicality has happened organically, we did not plan this; it’s become a talking point on its own. The cash crunch will not affect any movie if the content is good," says Neha, who plays a producer with a news channel in the film.
Adds her co-star Ranvir, “Based on a middle-class couple in Delhi and corruption, MMM is not just limited to material and money, it is also about values. I think it is quite relevant in current times.”
Known for his critically acclaimed and content-driven films like Bheja Fry, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Mithya, Mixed Doubles and Traffic Signal, for Ranvir, who is not seen on the big screen too often, filmmaking is a collaborative act.
“I am a director’s actor because when I am on sets, I see to how I can satisfy my director with my work. I like to work with people who are open to contribution and if your script is good, you have won half the battle. I try to insist that the script should be good,” he says. And that’s exactly what attracted him to Moh Maya Money. “After a very long time I have done a film in which I have the lead role. I decided to do it because it is a well written thriller, it punches above its weight. It comes under the category of small budget film but the writing is good and Munish has an interesting method of narrating a story. It is a suspense thriller with lot of twists and turns,” says Ranvir.
Ranvir also spends a lot of time pursuing theatre. “I do theatre on the side, which goes on, but my main focus is films. I do films for my passion and money. I believe that in theatre, people work a lot and spend so much time on it. But theatre doesn’t pay that much, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of reach,” says Ranvir. “I also feel that in front of the camera, as an actor, you can pull off more than as an actor on stage. So for me, cinema is number one,” he adds.
Ranvir has quite a few projects lined up, for instance, A Death In The Gunj, the directorial debut of his estranged wife Konkana Sen; In The Shadows, an international project with Manoj Bajpai; director Nila Madhab Panda’s Kadvi Hawa, an emotional story on climate change; Tennis Buddies, a Hindi film for children, and Metro Park, a television series, an urban comedy that revolves around two Indian immigrant families living in New Jersey, US. “I have found my corner and I do feel sometimes that I could have done more work but I don’t think I have the ability to water down my sensibilities and suit the lowest common denominator, which smart, educated people in the industry do. It’s difficult but that’s okay. I have come to accept that and found peace with whatever little I do,” says Ranvir.
Similarly, Neha, who is working with Ranvir in their fourth film together, says she’s happy being in the "middle ground position" in Bollywood where she’s spent over 15 years. Says the actress, “I have come a long way and I have to go a long way. A lot of women who started with me have moved on to another field: some have become homemakers, some producers and there have been some exceptions. But at least I have maintained a sense of consistency and that's reassuring — otherwise it’s so easy to be forgotten. It’s great to be self-employed and there are several avenues in the entertainment industry that have now opened up."
She continues,“We women can multi-task better. We don't get stuck in 'looks' and appearance as compared to the men, who have to go underground for three months to 'make' their bodies! [Laughs] Their moh, maya, money lies in their body. It’s so uncomplicated for us. I wear many hats — that of a producer, judging reality show Roadies, doing stage shows, endorsements...”
And recently, Neha found a new lease of life with her uncensored and funny celebrity audio chat show in the digital space, #No FilterNeha for which it can be said that the B-town has definitely supported her. Neha's show, the lineup for which has featured (so far) Kareena Kapoor, Ranbir Kapoor, Kangana Ranaut, Sonam Kapoor, Farah Khan, Karan Johar, offers content with an edge. And to achieve that, Neha clearly tells her celebrity guests at the time of extending invitations — "If the guests don’t have it unfiltered then they are not invited". “No talk show is complete without great and honest answers. I have told everybody to follow the rules. It’s not a film-based show, it’s not coming out when their films are releasing, but it’s about the ability to be truthful and the ability to win in the battle of wits. I’m not the winner, but it works to my advantage,” says Neha whose next set of guests include Alia Bhatt, Arjun Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap and Yuvraj Singh.
So, has any of her industry friends regretted their honest revelations on Neha's show? “I meet everybody in parties but I don’t see any change in their attitude towards me. In any case I have nothing to lose as I am a rank outsider. I don’t have any 4 am friend in the industry. I do have few good friends like Ranvir but I understand that friendships are not permanent and there is a kind of crab mentality. But I have learnt one thing the hard way: that being insecure doesn’t lead you anywhere — personally or professionally.”