With Pati Patni Aur Woh, I had to concoct a story where my female characters won: Mudassar Aziz
When Mudassar Aziz was offered to direct Pati Patni Aur Woh, an “ode” to B R Chopra’s 1978 comedy (starring Sanjeev Kumar, Vidya Sinha and Ranjeeta), he jumped at the opportunity
When Mudassar Aziz was offered to direct Pati Patni Aur Woh, an “ode” to B R Chopra’s 1978 comedy (starring Sanjeev Kumar, Vidya Sinha and Ranjeeta), he jumped at the opportunity, knowing that there was a great potential in the plot. However, he felt that reconstructing the story to a contemporary version would a challenge.
Claiming that his film with Kartik Aaryan, Bhumi Pednekar and Ananya Panday in the lead, has little in common with the original, except for the title and basic premise, he says, “Obviously, because marriage and relationships have changed over the decades. Women have come a long way. Modern-day relationships are based on different value systems. Hence, we turned things around on the concept level itself and re-wrote the plot."
“I realise that in 2019 you can’t make a film where a man slips, makes a mistake, goes back home and says sorry to one, then goes to the office says sorry to the other and it is all okay. I had to concoct a story where my women needed to win. That was the first change I made. Then I am glad that my producer to whom the original negative belongs realised that this is the way to go. So we constructed it around that,” he adds.
And while doing so, a pertinent thought crossed his mind. Aziz wondered why when there was another woman in a married man’s life, it was perceived as funny, whereas, the other way round made for a serious situation.
“Why can’t it be a man, woman and another man and why do people not find that funny? So when you see films like Mahesh Manjrekar’s Astitva, you realise, ‘Arre, if a woman falls for another man then it becomes a very serious issue but when a man does, it becomes fun and hansee-mazaak (banter) talk. So, when I decided to approach this film it was my attempt to put a full stop to this once and for all. You will realise that the director is making a comment once and for all to tell his audiences that man going for another woman is just not funny."
Further, Aziz says, he has given a complete spin to the wife’s look and character, “Because my story is about mundaneness into a relationship creeping in due to lack of communication and not about glamour or hotness. It has nothing to do with how hot or not hot your partner is. When you stop communication, when you stop telling the truth to one another even to the point of pleasing one another, then a gap happens which you don’t even realise. For this reason it was most necessary that the wife looks even a bit more glamorous than the other woman because here hotness is not a problem. So my attempt as a filmmaker was let’s pick up this idea of hotness and throw that out of the window. Is the man looking for something outside for that particular reason? No, not at all."
While Aziz accepts Pati Patni Aur Woh is his most commercial outing after family entertainer Dulha Mil Gaya, cross border comedy Happy Bhag Jayegi and Happy Phirr Bhag Jayegi, he prefers calling it the most relevant and important. “A man, a woman and the other woman, this story has for decades been looked at with a certain element of humour in it. It is an easiest lend to situational comedy because it is happening in somebody else’s life and not yours. At the outset if you ask me is this the most masala entertainer I have made, yes, in a way most commercial but it is also a very strong comment on an important issue,” he explains.
'99.9 per cent men in this country do not even know when they are committing marital rape'
In this very obvious progressive commentary, one wonders how Aziz reacts to the scene and the dialogue on marital rape that created a stir and offended many? “It was very unfortunate that the word balatkar (rape) had to be replaced because I maintain my stand that a 12-year-old needs to know what balatkar is. Don’t stop the word, stop the act. By muting that word we are not achieving anything. Rape percentage won’t drop by doing that. And most importantly, 99.9 per cent men in this country do not even know when they are committing marital rape. Coming back home after work, waking up a sleeping wife, and even if you indulge in foreplay that is not consent,” he asserts.
“And what sort of double standards it is that in one film a person is reading out balatkar 36 times from a letter and you are laughing. Is it just because 3 Idiots came at a time when social media was not as active? We want to be so quick in forming judgment. But I am not affected by it because I know the film I have made. I want to see a few people and their reactions when my film gets over. I am very eagerly waiting for that because everyone who thought that this was adult humour and that I was sympathising or empathising with the idea of marital rape is going to be very rudely shocked. The woman in this film takes the man apart. The finger happy generation forget that this is the maker of Happy Bhag Jayegi one and two," he continues.
Meanwhile, Aziz is very happy with the choice of actors and their performances – current sensation and one of the most saleable actors Aaryan, the powerhouse of talent Pednekar and an exuberant Panday. “Kartik has usually tried to push his films through the audiences with heroines leading them and from that perspective it really helps to cast a saleable star like him. But does that change how I approach a character, or a film? No. I stick to what I like to make and stick to the kind of cinema I believe in. But even Kartik doesn’t know how much potential he still has and Pati Patni Aur Woh is the first attempt at him stepping out of the comfort zone. Our references on the film were very Amol Palekar, Sanjeev Kumar..if you see the way he is dressed, his bush shirt, his moustache..And trust me, his skills in language because he is a Hindi speaking boy, will go a long way in him being able to adapt to several such characters,” he says.
“With Bhumi the director has the liberty to say, ‘Itna kar liya, ab ek aur layer attach karte hain isme’ (You have performed this scene, now add another layer to it). She is so malleable and easy in the director’s hand. And Ananya is like a a bull on a mission. Performance-wise she has taken a huge leap from her first film. Both, Ananya and I knew that she was being pitted against two strong actors and she had to emerge stronger."
"I have my own way of approaching comedy which is literature based. Pati Patni Aur Woh is my first solid shot at Hindi,” he concludes.
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