Veere di Wedding producer Rhea Kapoor on casting Kareena, Sonam: I was nervous two mainstream heroines will never act together
As this celebration of female friendship and bonding opens to a bumper response at the box office, Veere Di Wedding (starring Kareena Kapoor Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Swara Bhaskar and Shikha Talsania) producer Rhea Kapoor recalls how the idea for the film was born at the wedding of her best friend and writer Nidhi Mehra, in Delhi, three years ago. “Nidhi looked like the happiest drunk bride on this earth. She was surrounded by all her childhood friends. All the girls were drunk and they were making confessions about how much they loved each other. They were hugging and kissing and saying things like: ‘Men will never replace you, you’re my jaan, you are the love of my life’. It was the purest form of love I’d ever seen. Soon after, I spoke to the writers (Nidhi and Mehul Suri) and decided to work on the film. So the four girls in the film are inspired by the real girls in Nidhi, Mehul and my lives. The film is basically about holding on to your girls and going through life,” said Rhea.
Veere.. is Rhea’s third film after Aisha (2010) and Khoobsurat (2014), and she describes it as her “first grown up” film. “Veere has a lot of me in it. I was 21 when Aisha happened when there weren’t really any Hindi film made for young women that talked about girl gang getting together and learning about love, romance, friendship, attraction, sex...We loved the concept of adapting Jane Austen’s Emma and it also kind of solidified the genre of films I wanted to make. Then, I was attracted to the idea of telling the story of a princess who just refused to change and we made Khoobsurat,” said Rhea, who is still clueless that why such all-girl ensemble films aren't made. “I am not sure about that but I am obsessed about working with girls and making movies with girls in it. Even my office is full of girls – the styling team, the head of PR and Marketing, and it has all happened naturally, it is not that I told my staff, ‘Find me a woman!'".
Considering the fact that the makers of Veere, in the lead-up to the trailer launch had released publicity posters with the disclaimer #IAmNotAChickFlick, Rhea wonders that why do people assume that she makes chick flicks. “I have never understood that why Charlie’s Angels is a chick flick and why Rush Hour is an action comedy. Why must our entire gender have only one genre? I feel it keeps boys away from watching our film and I don’t like that. I enjoy Thor, Avengers and Die Hard, so what is the problem? I know a lot of boys obsessed with Aisha and Khoobsurat but they don't accept. Guys should not have shame watching these films, they should try and understand girls and laugh and enjoy with them. Some of the funniest people in their lives could be their mother or sister. Why are they creating this idea that they are uncool if they watch these films?” asserts Rhea.
However, casting for Veere, especially for Kalindi’s role (played by Kareena), wasn’t so easy for Rhea and she was in a major dilemma. She clearly wanted one of the top mainstream actresses to play the part and her instinct said that it had to be Kareena, but she was a bit hesitant to approach her despite their respective families being friends for years. “I was confused because everybody made me so nervous by saying that two mainstream heroines will never act together. I was so flustered those days and was even scared to approach Bebo (Kareena’s nick name). I have never been very close to her and had never ever spoken to her professionally. Finally, I just went and met her and while I was narrating the script, her face lit up. Actually, I should have expected this because Bebo has been one of the bravest girls around,” she said.
“One of the first outlines we wrote is that ‘Kalindi’ is pregnant in the film before Bebo actually got pregnant. I was nervous because telling a top heroine to play an unwed mother, I felt, was never going to happen. My dad (Anil Kapoor) said we were mad to write such stuff. We changed it but then Bebo actually got pregnant. I told her that I have it outlined where she was pregnant. Kareena was game saying she wanted to work and not sit at home. We had loved writing that outline but we had issues with insurance and timing. I couldn’t take that risk and put everyone through so much pressure because you can’t make a film without insurance. Also, it’s the first time that I was working with a mainstream star and not just my sister. We went back to the original script and waited for Kareena to return after delivery. I didn’t want to make this film without Kareena. She had the right vibe,” said Rhea, sitting in her office in suburban Mumbai which is buzzing with a flurry of activities.
She may hail from one of the most revered Bollywood families, but Rhea cuts a casual figure in her simple checkered shirt and jeans. With Anil Kapoor for a father, and Sonam and Harshvardhan for siblings, this businesswoman seems to have settled into her niche with utmost comfort. “Not even once have I felt any less than them because I chose to be behind the scenes,” says Rhea, who had quite early in her life decided that she didn’t want to go in front of the camera. “After I had finished my college, one day I met Ayan Mukerji, who, those days was busy with Wake Up Sid. He invited me saying that he wanted my brain for his film. I am a restless person, I need to do things. I joined Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions as Ayan’s AD (assistant director) and on the second day on set, I realised that in my life I can never be an actor because I need to do things from beginning to end. That is my personality type and I made that decision for myself when I was just 21. I wanted to do something creative but I didn’t know what exactly. I don’t like being in front of media/press but I love my movies. I’m very passionate about it,” she says flashing her dad’s smile. “I am very much my father’s daughter. We have the same temperament as well. I want to emulate how he has lived his life. I find him the most inspiring person around. He is kind; he is hardworking; he pushes himself and gets better every year. He is an amazing dad,” she says warmly.
However, Rhea is quite aware about how people look at the 'privileged ones'. “I know that opportunities wouldn’t have come to a 21-year-old if I wasn’t Anil Kapoor's daughter. I know that such opportunities come to one in a billion people. I am not deluded about that. I am aware of my privileges and that I need to work double hard and do things that maybe others can’t. What is the point in doing run-of- the-mill stuff when I have all these opportunities?” she says candidly.
“Of course, people will not take you seriously and question what have you done, what have you achieved? Of course, people are going to make fun of you and think you don’t deserve to be there but that has not been my focus. These are my issues, those are their's. I want to focus only on the positive. Eventually your work speaks for itself and they will come around. I am not dumb. I can feel people’s energy. Lot of people who didn’t take us seriously early on have started paying attention now. But everyone doesn’t have to love you. Still I feel very loved, very lucky,” she adds.
So what are her expectations from Veere? “Well, it is the first of its kind, so I have no idea. I can’t gauge. It is not like Baaghi or Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, so who knows what is the benchmark for it? Honestly, if girls and boys in hordes watch this film, have a blast and come out laughing, my work is done. If girls come out feeling happy as if someone has hugged them, my work is done,” concludes Rhea.
Updated Date: Jun 02, 2018 09:49 AM