Luv Ranjan talks about De De Pyaar De, Ajay Devgn, Ranbir Kapoor and why he doesn't read movie reviews
Once again accused of serving an anti-women sentiment in De De Pyaar De, Firstpost catches up with Luv Ranjan, who wonders what the fuss is all about.
On its second weekend, Ajay Devgn-Tabu-Rakul Preet Singh starrer De De Pyaar De (released on 17 May) gathered momentum at the box office with positive word of mouth. The film’s writer-producer, Luv Ranjan, whose two productions – Malang (Aditya Roy Kapur-Disha Patani) and Turram Khan (Rajkummar Rao-Nushrat Bharucha) is currently on floors — catapulted to fame with his comedy-dramas such as Pyaar Ka Punchnama franchise and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety that struck box office gold. Though these films found a connect with the youth, it was criticised for misogynistic undertones and treatment of female characters. Ranjan has defended his films strongly. His latest, a romantic comedy, talks about a 50-year-old separated father of two falling in love with a woman 24 years his junior. Once again accused of serving an anti-women sentiment, Firstpost catches up with the filmmaker, who wonders what the fuss is all about. Excerpts:
What do you think has worked for De De Pyaar De?
What has been working for most of the films for the last two to three years is a different and fresh concept. When the poster, teaser and trailer came out, everyone thought the film is about a man cheating upon his wife, or it is about an older woman and younger woman, or it is a triangle, but once people went to watch the film they realised that it is not all of that. It is a family film. It is a film about a man who has been separated for 18 years, so there is no young girl, old wife kind of a thing. They are not in a relationship. New story with a dose of entertainment works, and it is not just entertainment, we have driven home certain subtle messages without being preachy
And one of the top stars of the country is playing his age that is something never happened before. He is coolly saying it. There are so many 50- year- olds and 60- year- olds who have a swag, you don’t have to be 35 to have one.
This is your first production with a big star..
The idea is not just to work with a star. If it is a 50-year-old character then you can’t pick a newcomer. Besides being a star, the fact is that Ajay has that experience and ability to pull it off. It is not an easy role to play. Same goes with Tabu’s character. Forget the stardom, her ability as an actor is more important. Not many actresses could have done it.
Why didn’t you direct it yourself?
I am a prolific writer but a lazy director. I can’t direct every year back-to-back. It is not something that comes naturally to me. I am very enamored by directors who are able to do it. We have so much talent within my own people who have been working with me, they are all aspiring to be directors and they are all capable. That is the primary reason I didn’t want to direct the film. Akiv Ali, who has edited my four films, directed it. After writing the film I felt Ajay was the best choice to play the lead. I discussed with Ajay and convinced him to do it.
The film has picked up big time but this is one of Ajay’s rare films to get a poor opening..
When he did the film, Ajay knew that he is venturing into an uncharted territory. It is a very non-Ajay Devgn film; he has done a rom-com after a very long time. The last film that comes to my mind is Pyaar Toh Hona Hi Tha (1998). He is a very realistic and practical man, he is a producer himself. He knows that it is not a Golmaal or Singham. It is a film which will take off slowly. Everyone knew that it won’t get that kind of opening. But the joy is that if it opens at a certain number but if it doubles up, or multiplies by 1.5 times the next day, at some level it reaffirms your belief. It validates that you have done a good job with the film. Numbers are very tricky. If a film like this does a certain number it is a bigger victory than another film doing a bigger number because that has been happening anyway.
Ajay is happy about the film’s outcome at the box office. The most important thing for any filmmaker or actor is the acceptance of the film and the fact that it has such great word of mouth. He is a very intelligent actor. In this film he wanted to try something different. There is no point in trying something different and still wanting to cater to the same audience. It is one of the most secure performances of Ajay that I have ever seen. He has made it look so simple, so cool, so suave. It is his simplicity, he is a very down-to-earth person.
You have received consistent flak for being sexist and derogatory towards women in your films.
If the same film was made by another filmmaker, nobody will find anything sexist about the film. Age is the concept of the film. If you are ever in this situation you will end up joking about the age, you can’t be so politically correct all the time. If it is a story about a man who is 50 and a girl who is 26, age will come into play. Are you or anyone telling me that age will never be discussed? That is the plot of the film.
Also, I have never understood it (accusations) because I have never done it with that intent. I have said it again and again that my filmography is very small and you are choosing to concentrate on one side of the filmography just because those are the films that have worked. I have also made Akaash Vani which no one bothers to talk about. I really can’t do anything about how people want to perceive it. If people want to find something negative, they do that in any case. A lot of times people have these preconceived notions of what cinema is and they are not able to get it out of their heads.
How do you react to reviews?
I am not a big reader of reviews. I learnt that after my first film itself: not to take them too seriously. I make a film, people like it or they don’t like it and that is what eventually maters. Beyond a point I am not interested in reviews because film reviewing in India is a very tricky thing. Very few understand it but a lot of people write it. Certain reviews end up reviewing everything except the film. Critics are swayed away by emotion, people, politics, or their personal like or dislike towards you and in that process they don’t end up reviewing the film, they end up reviewing you.
Your success ratio so far is good. Can we say that you have good connect with the audience?
It is not my connect with the audience, it is the story’s connect with the audience. But I would like to believe that I am mostly clear about what is the audience for the film. I don’t try to make a film for everyone because at times there are stories that can’t be made for everyone. As long as you know what the target audience is, it just makes your job a little easier.
Tell us about your next directorial venture with Ajay Devgn and Ranbir Kapoor.
It is badass entertainment (laughs). We start rolling in November-December and as of now it will release in Christmas 2020. We haven’t decided the female lead yet. I have always liked Ranbir as an actor and he agreed to be part of it immediately.
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