Let’s all celebrate Kangana: Hansal Mehta
Hansal Mehta tries to put to bed the various controversies surrounding his upcoming Kangana Ranaut-starrer Simran
Director Hansal Mehta salutes what he considers the “fearlessness” of Kangana Ranaut, and says he would love to work with the “one-of-a-kind" artiste again. Here are excerpts from a conversation he recently had with us, in which he opened up about the controversies surrounding his film, Simran:
You've been very quiet about all the controversies surrounding Simran? Do you regret not speaking out when writer Apurva Asrani raised a stink about his writing credits?
I said whatever I had to then and there is nothing more that I will say in the public domain. I was definitely saddened but I will continue to remain silent.
It is also being said that Kangana took over the project from you and ghost-directed the film. Please clarify once and for all about the extent of Kangana's contribution?
Kangana has collaborated closely on this film and I have always seen that with a lot of positivity. There is a lot her contribution has lent to the final product and I would rather celebrate that than respond to insinuations. After having spent 20 years making many different kinds of films, I feel I don't need to clarify on this matter any further as it gives unnecessary attention to people who thrive on spreading malice.
Tell us very frankly, would you work with Kangana again?
Kangana is fine artiste; one of the best we have today. If I have a subject that both of us agree upon, I would love to work with her again. We know each other well enough and there is no reason to not continue making films together.
Do you approve of her speaking about her personal life during the promotions of Simran?
I've said before that she only answered questions that were asked. She answered those unflinchingly and I salute her fearlessness. She is one-of-a-kind and we should celebrate that. I wish the wise people who raised these questions about her personal life would also be asked if they had nothing else to ask her.
What was it like to make a film so far removed from your normal brooding style?
As a filmmaker, I wanted to challenge myself, and do something that would pull me out of my comfort zone. I try that with every film. That’s why, Aligarh was so very different from Shahid in terms of tone, pace and treatment. Similarly, Simran had to be a departure from Aligarh. What is common though in each of my films is the focus on their characters.
Here, that focus is on Simran. I'm proud to say that in this film, we have explored a migrant Indian girl's life and space with authenticity. Simran is an intimate portrayal of the Indian diaspora living in the US. Hence, the claustrophobic spaces, the blue-collared jobs, the reconditioned cars and distant suburbs.
The censor board asked for 10 cuts in Simran. Were you surprised considering the recent change in leadership of the censor board?
I've always maintained that we have to rise above individuals if the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) has to be effective. That will only be possible if the outdated guidelines that govern censorship in India are changed keeping in mind the times we live in and the digitised world we inhabit. Until that happens, we will keep lamenting such cuts, and nothing will really change.
As for the cuts in Simran, they were all minor and did not hamper the film's narrative in any way. I agreed to remove them because I did not see the point of fighting what was essentially the consequence of dated guidelines and their ambiguous interpretation by members of the examining committee. What surprised me was that this news was all over the place the moment I left the CBFC screening of Simran. Obviously, somebody within the board was gleeful that they had got me by the b**ls and had already informed everybody about the cuts. I'm happy that whoever spilled the beans had their moment in the sun.