Filmmaker Aanand L. Rai is known for collaborating with several superstars be it Dhanush, Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma while he kept experimenting with his storytelling instead of following any formula of commercial Bollywood films.
In conversation with IANS, Aanand shares why he opts for conviction in storytelling as opposed to formula and why a film like ‘Zero’ with one of the biggest superstars of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan – was actually not a failure but a learning for him.
Asked how he plans his casting of bringing superstars on board for his projects and Aanand told IANS: “Well, firstly, by not looking at them as a superstar but the talented actors that they are…you see the moment I would start thinking about casting from a commercial point of view as in, let’s bring Dhanush from the south (Indian film industry) and Akshay sir from Hindi so that when the film is released, both their fans will gather in the theatre to watch a film, I might compromise on a story.
“It is my good luck that Dhanush and Akshay sir, both are superstars; but before anything else, they are good actors and perfect for the characters they played on-screen. It was the same process for every film that I have done. Perhaps that is why my films are more to do with how interesting and experimental the story is, rather than the box-office success. Business of a film cannot be predicted but what I can offer is, an original story. That is all I am trying to do.”
However, it is not wrong to assume that when a superstar and a successful filmmaker like Aanand come together for a project, the success of the film is expected. But that was not really the result with the film ‘Zero’ that featured Shah Rukh, Katrina and Anushka.
Does the pressure of delivering a successful film increase when superstars are on board?
Aanand explained, “I want to put my thoughts on the table on this topic. Look, having an expectation from the audience is one thing and how I, as a director of the film is dealing with it, is another. I think if I am not ready to deal with that extra pressure, then I should have not signed up for a huge project like that.
“Yes, I was working with one of the biggest superstars of our country, Shah Rukh. Making the film itself was an experience and I am proud of the fact that it was one of the original films, an original story. Yes, I took the pressure of Khan’s stardom that I shouldn’t have. But ‘Zero’ is not a failure but a learning for me. I knew how to take off, I didn’t know how to land!”
His next directorial work is ‘Raksha Bandhan’ starring Akshay Kumar. The shooting of the film has been completed.