Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra on Fanney Khan: Got so attached to the original, had to produce Hindi version

Abhishek Srivastava

Aug 05, 2018 15:48:25 IST

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s every film till date has been a personal one. Irrespective of the box office fate of his films, the director believes that there has always been an emotional bonding with all his films. His sensitivity towards his films is akin to matters of life and death. He adds that when you become passionate about something, it becomes personal. When he felt strongly about corruption in the defence sector, Rang De Basanti was the outcome and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag was the after-effect of the numerous stories about partition that had moved him. Rakeysh’s upcoming film, Fanney Khan, is no exception and is part of the same thread. “I had read this somewhere that 92 percent girls are subject to body shaming in the world. My daughter is 19 now and in her, I can feel the turmoil and conflict of a growing girl. It seems that every gaze is judging you as to what are you wearing and what makeup have you done. I am sorry to say this but our films are also to be blamed for such a situation,” says a candid Rakeysh.

 Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra on Fanney Khan: Got so attached to the original, had to produce Hindi version

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. Image from Facebook/Times-Mumbai

But this time, Rakeysh has donned the mantle of a producer and avoided saying ‘action’ on the sets. He is of the view that Atul Manjrekar has done a better job. When coaxed further, Mehra explains the reason. “I got attached to the original material (the Belgian film) and the job of making a Hindi version of Everybody's Famous! was not coming naturally to me. Till the time I don’t feel about a subject, I am just not able to work on it but I was so convinced and felt so strongly about the subject that I had no option but to produce it.”

When asked to pick the more more strenuous job between producing and directing a film, he replies, “They are both different jobs and carry different responsibilities. In simple words, I would say direction is more like mothering a film and producing a film is like being the father.” Rakeysh recalls that he had seen the Belgian original, on which Fanney Khan is based, after it was recommended by a friend a decade back. The original film was also nominated in the best foreign language film category at the Oscars in the same year when Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon had become a phenomenon. “After I saw the film, it left a deep impression on me and I realised that a Hindi version is possible. Then the process of procuring rights started which the producers were initially hesitant to part with. If someone were to ask me for the rights of RDB, chances are that I will never part with it because the film is very close to me. Later, I sent DVD of my work to the producers and then they understood that in India too some great work is happening. I could understand their quandary and it comes from the fact that no one is interested in tarnishing their name.”

The film dabbles with the struggles of a failed singer-father who harbours dreams of fulfilling his long cherished desire through his overweight daughter by making her a singer. But wrapped around this entertaining musical plot is also the message of body shaming. “We often keep seeing products like perfume and facial cream which guarantee that they will make you fair in flat seven days. Why fair? I fail to comprehend. I don’t know what’s happening. Women are put in a witness box and immediately subjected to scrutiny. This was one issue I wanted to attack and take head on in an entertaining manner.” Rakeysh does not endorse the fact that films have the power to change people’s mindset and believes that Fanney Khan is just a small step he has taken to dispense this myth.

The filmmaker recently gave his nod to convert RDB and Delhi 6 into musicals but is not willing to divulge much. Any conversation with Rakeysh will invariably touch upon RDB and this exchange is no exception. According to the filmmaker, RDB remains an extremely personal film, the seed of which stemmed from his anger towards to the defence ministry. “I was a student of Air Force Bal Bharti School and have grown up watching MIG fighter planes. When MIGs were crashing in succession, I remember the defence minister saying that "young pilots hosh mein nahi josh mein MIG chala rahe hai". I was really angry and RDB was the outcome. I was taught by teachers who were wives of air force pilots, so after all that, it surely becomes personal.”

Mirzya is definitely a sore topic for the him but he is candid enough to admit, with a smile, that the film did not run for even a week. “When you try to ride a horse which has not been trained, you are destined to fall. But if it’s a trained horse, howsoever loud music you play in front of him during a marriage procession, it will remain calm. This was told to me by Aamir Khan and when Mirzya crashed at the box office. He also said that I often try to ride horses which have not been trained. Whenever you attempt something new, it has no past reference, but it’s important that you should try something new.” Rakeysh reveals that for five years he could not gather enough money to make RDB and for BMB it was four years and during the making of both the films he had to put his house at stake. He laughs when he says that Fanney Khan is not that experimental vis-à-vis his earlier films. Before signing off, he leaves with some words of wisdom – “If you are chasing a hit and are not able to deliver it, then it’s not an ideal situation.”

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Updated Date: Aug 05, 2018 15:48:25 IST