Kanika Dhillon on OTT shows unapologetically talking about women desires: 'We should have spoken about it 100 years ago'

In an exclusive conversation with Firstpost, Dunki writer Kanika Dhillon opens up about writing strong and real women portrayals, her hit pair with Taapsee Pannu and more.

Ganesh Aaglave September 16, 2022 06:48:47 IST
Kanika Dhillon on OTT shows unapologetically talking about women desires: 'We should have spoken about it 100 years ago'

Versatile author and writer Kanika Dhillon has carved her own niche with her impeccable writing in projects like Size Zero, Manmarziyaan, Rashmi Rocket, Haseen Dilruba, Guilty, Judgementall Hai Kya and many others. While fans are super-excited to see her work in Haseen Dilruba 2 and Dunki, in an exclusive conversation with Firstpost, Kanika opens up about writing empowered and real characters, what audience can expect from her upcoming biggies and more.

After getting such a huge response for Haseen Dilruba, you are now working on the second part of it. Is there any pressure on you because of the grand success of the first installment?

Yaar, I’m toh so excited. This is my first film as a co-producer, I wrote it and produced it. So, the kind of love I got for it was phenomenal. Be it audience, be it the platform, be it the awards and everything. So, it’s a beautiful beautiful feeling and what I carry forward to part 2 is all the love and of course, the expectation that comes with a love of it. And I going to my try my level best to meet all of that and we definitely share a lot more about it soon once we are ready. But yes, definitely something is cooking and I’ll make sure that it’s a great recipe.

Talking about your writing, all women characters right from Size Zero, Manmarziyaan, Rashmi Rocket, Guilty to Haseen Dilruba, the roles are empowered yet very relatable. So, how you tap into these characters? Do you observe your surrounding for that?

Literally, as an artist, you can bring out what you know, or what you want, or what you aspire. But perhaps sometimes, you can also bring out the perspective and then put it out there and tell the world to hate it, right? So all my characters, literally come from that emotion or something that I want to say, or somebody who that I am. The point of view that I want to put across and yes, a part of me is there in all my characters. Be it, the male or the female and like you said they’re all flaws, they’re all empowered, they learn from their mistakes, they’re not car book characters because that’s not who I am in real life, that’s not how I’ve seen other women in real life. So, I write and I create and my starting point is what I know and what I’ve seen is you know, how it should be, how the world should be. So, that’s the lens that I’m creating from and I think that’s where my heroine and characters originated from.

 

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As a writer does OTT give you more freedom to write about bold characters because for cinema you have to restrict yourself for writing the roles? 

Yaar mere toh cinema mein, like Manmarziyaan came out in theatres, Kedarnath came out, Jugdementall came out. Manmarziyaan also loved by the critics, Kedarnath made big numbers at the box office, Judgementall again got love from the critics. The lead actors got a lot of appreciation for their roles. So, it was not that they were any less layered talking about my characters on-screen or the big screen. But yes I do understand that a restriction of the medium slightly could be that you can go a little more all out in the OTT because that kind of censorship of inclusivity that you need. Because in the theatre, you need to appease to very varied group who watching it together. So you need to kind of smooth out the sharp edges, to make it more inclusive, to make it more likeable to people coming from different sets of ideologies or backgrounds or class or other various themes, social-political background. Now, whereas in OTT it is a very individual viewing where the remote is in the heart of the audience and it’s a very one-to-one thing they have. You don’t really need to the people who would like this sort of a story. They will find their story. So you are basically already talking to an audience who wants to watch this particular piece of work that you’ve done. So you can be a little unabashed, you can push the envelope and you don’t have to be mindful of trying to get into a varied group, what we do the story and get the character that many layer. So that kind of censorship that one has while writing for theater is not there because the pressure of inclusivity is not there. Because the audience when they watch it on OTT, it is more one to one experience. They can go into their own individual rooms and watch it. So, that whole thing works. Community viewing, sort of a experience also tends to censor a certain sort of a narrative. Emotional narrative and physical narrative, which may not be required in order to be part of you.

In recent times, we are seeing OTT shows unapologetically talking about women desires. Your take on that

We should have spoken about women’s desires 100 years ago man but I think we are 100 years too late. But I am glad it is starting to be spoken about, and yes, women desires are as important as the male desires. In fact, my own character in Haseen Dilruba, she cheats on her husband because she’s not sexually fulfilled. And that doesn’t make her wrong. That just makes her more human, that just makes her more aware of who she is and what she wants. So actually, in cinema stories, we definitely have ignored those sexual fulfillment of a woman because you already brushed it on the carpet. It is all about, what a man wants and how the woman service him. So I’m glad finally, we all kind of toning the camera to the other side and we’re looking at the woman as a complete human being and not just an appendage to a man and we are not interested what her wants, desires are as well. And I like I said, maybe 100 years too late, but at least we started.

It looks like Taapsee Pannu justifies your characters very well on the silver screen whether it is Manmarziyaan, Haseen Dilruba, Rashmi Rocket or the upcoming biggie Dunki.

See, many people tell us that. So, I always tell that two crazies always work well together. So, you know, light attracts light, birds of a feather flock together, that’s me and Taapsee. We are very crazy in our own right and we are very similar to each other we are very headstrong, we constantly bicker but we make a good team because we are both ready to take that leap of faith in each other, you know, usually, I have a comfort zone with her, I know that I can tell her one line and can get a reaction from her and she is brave enough to gauge that one line and tell me that oh! she would be interested in something like this or not. And she would take the leap of faith with me that okay, I know what she’s writing it, and she is going to make it land I take the leap of faith that I can go as bizarre as this because Taapsee will make it land. So that sort of teamwork has worked well for both of us. I remember when I narrated movie to her in my house and I was like Taapsee you have to tell me now whether you are doing it or not. She started laughing, she asked can you give me two hours and I said no you have to tell me now and she said ok fine (Laughs). That’s how it is because I’m very impatient. Like my all the actors I’ve worked with, thankfully, I’ve really spoiled free with this. I am usually inside like a child and I am used to that instant reaction and Taapsee is really spoiled because while we were doing Manmarziyaan, I narrated her the one line of our film and she’s like I am gonna do it. And of course, then things happened and I couldn’t take that to her directly, which she completely like rubs in it in everywhere (laugh) whenever people ask but she was the first to say yes I am on babe before I put pen to paper. So I love that about her. I love the fact that she is unafraid to take those leaps of faith and we kind of landed well together be it Manmarziyaan and our collaboration always brings out something special be it Rumi in Manmarziyaan or be it Rashmi Rocket or be it Haseen Dilruba. We won awards, we got nominated and that makes for a great team. It’s a crazy ride with her and we kind of enjoy it a lot. We fight and argue a lot but that’s all fun.

You have collaborated with Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi for Shah Rukh Khan’s Dunki. So, what fans can expect from this biggie?

Yaar, Dunki is a very special film. I’m getting to work with very special people. I worked with Anurag Kashyap and Aanand Rai and now Rajkumar Hirani sir was definitely somebody I wanted to work with and finally got a chance to do that. Shah Rukh sir (Khan) is someone whom I started my career with. Abhijat (Joshi) is somebody that I always admired and always followed this book and wanted to collaborate with him. So for me these are stalwarts, I’m working with and they are super seniors and I am really, I think very blessed that I’m a part of this beautiful beautiful story and I wish, hope, fingers crossed. I hope the audience gives it a lot of love. We made it with a lot of love.

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