Raaj Shaandilyaa: People are easily offended these days

Raaj Shaandilyaa: People are easily offended these days

The writer-producer of Luv Ki Arrange Marriage, explains how emotions make the core of comedy, while director Ishrat R Khan and actors Sunny Singh and Avneet Kaur share their learnings from working with senior actors

Luv Ki Arrange Marriage is an unusual case of boy-meets-girl. It tells the story of a couple, played by Sunny Singh and Avneet Kaur, who meet during an arranged marriage set-up. However, trouble ensues when the boy’s father (Annu Kapoor), a widower, falls in love with the girl’s mother (Supriya Pathak), who is also a single parent. The ZEE5 film promises to be a new-age take on marriage where the young couple try to fix up their own relationship while figuring out the growing love among their respective parents.

In the film, Avneet plays Ishika, a confident girl who always speaks her mind, while in reality, Avneet is an introvert. She feels that the character appealed to her primarily due to this contrast. “I wanted to play someone like that on-screen as in reality I take time to open up to people,” says the actor. Moreover, what made the filming process enriching was the presence of seasoned actors like Rajpal Yadav, Supriya, and Annu, who brought their learnings on set. “The process of making a scene come to life was beautiful. All of us would discuss it together and add different flavours of our own to what was already written,” says Avneet.

Sunny found much joy in sharing screen space with the senior actors. “You just give them a line and they will come up with ten ways of saying it,” he says. “It is difficult to match their level but we can try to catch up.” Even though Sunny has showcased his acting prowess in the past with films like Pyaar Ka Punchnama 2 (2015), Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (2018) and Ujda Chaman (2019), he feels grateful to have worked in this film as it was a learning process for him as well. “There are many things which will stay with me when I do my next film. I remember feeling sad on the last day on set. I wished the shooting went on for longer.”

Even though Luv Ki Arrange Marriage is only Ishrat R Khan's second film as a director, after the 2023 social drama, Guthlee Ladoo, he found that none of them had any issue in taking directions from him. “They don’t have an iota of ego. Once they came on set, they became an open slate with a child-like curiosity,” he says. During the shoot, Annu had a sudden heart attack and was hospitalized, making everyone worried. However, when Sunny went to meet him at the hospital, Annu started narrating the script of the film to him. His enthusiasm was undeterred even when he recovered, as Ishrat recollects, “He came back on set and started dancing for the song sequences as if nothing had happened to him. His energy was infectious.”

Early on in her career, Avneet had a difficult time working with experienced actors during a scene. She had a habit of memorising her lines thoroughly from the script and when a co-actor would slightly improvise, it would ruin her rhythm. “I would go blank if someone said a different line during a scene. I wouldn’t know what to say as it was not what I had memorised,” she says. Eventually, however, she learnt to get into the mind of her character and react accordingly. She shares an anecdote about shooting with Nawazuddin Siddiqui in Tiku Weds Sheru (2023). They were shooting outdoors on the beach and Nawazuddin started reacting to the moment. Avneet reveals how he went overboard and started punching the sand and running everywhere. “It came as a surprise to me as he didn’t tell me he was going to do this,” Avneet says. “But this time, I started reacting to the scene as well without thinking of what was actually written. I ran behind him and the scene turned out to be beautiful.”

Luv Ki Arrange Marriage is written by Raaj Shaandilyaa along with Ishrat R Khan, Rohit Nayyar, Rishi Azad, and Rajan Agarwal. Raaj has written extensively for TV shows like Comedy Circus (2007) and films like Freaky Ali (2016), Dream Girl (2019) and Dream Girl 2 (2023), both of which he also directed. He feels that comedy emerges from emotions. “There is no comedy without emotions. It is how you choose to see a moment that makes it funny,” he says. “When I was doing Comedy Circus and people used to laugh at my jokes, I had a realization which I incorporated through a couplet. It went like, Agar duniya me gham na hote, to mumkin hai shayad hum na hote (If there was no sorrow in the world, there would be no comedians). That’s how it is."

At the same time, he thinks that there is a difference between making fun of something and creating a funny situation. “I can create a situation that is funny without making fun of the situation,” he says. According to him, today’s polarising times can make it difficult to navigate comedy. “Nowadays, people are easily offended,” he says. There have been times when he had to censor himself due to this. “People keep telling me, ‘Don’t do this, this will offend someone; don’t say that, it will hurt sentiments.’ Everyone keeps telling you what not to do. So, what should you do? No one has any idea,” he smiles. 

The film will be released on the streaming platform on June 14.

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