Every festival is a festival of love: Loveyatri actor Aayush Sharma
The team of Loveyatri talk about their film
Aayush Sharma and Warina Hussain's debut film, Loveyatri, released in theatres last Friday. The romantic musical, directed by debutant Abhiraj Minawala and produced by Salman Khan, is set in Gujarat. The film stars Aayush in the role of a Garba teacher who falls in love with a visiting NRI during the festival of Navratri. "For a very long time, I was in two minds about what kind of film to debut in. A lot of people thought it would be an action film since I was training under Salman. But I wanted to start off in a very relatable manner. I believe it is the audience that makes you into a star; your job is just to act. So it's okay for a debut film to not have everything. It shouldn't be a showreel," says Aayush.
Talking about her big Bollywood break, Warina, an Afghan national who moved to India in 2010, says, "I started with modeling six years ago. I never thought I'd get a break as big as this one. Loveyatri has everything a young female actor would want in her debut — great dance, fabulous music, amazing costumes by Manish Malhotra and a very Indian flavour. My preparation process for the film was very educational, even though I had been to the Mumbai branch of New York Film Academy (NYFA) to learn acting. I think this film has prepared me well for my career."
Although billed as a simple love story, Loveyatri was dragged into controversy when objections were raised by certain factions against its original title, ‘Loveratri’. Speaking about the title change, Aayush says, "Firstly, ‘Loveratri’ is not an actual word. It was a made-up word. If we can have fictional stories with fictional plots, why can't we have fictional titles? Just because two words are rhyming doesn't mean they imply the same thing. There is nothing demeaning or vulgar in our film. We do not intend to hurt anyone’s sentiments. I believe every festival is a festival of love, be it Eid, Christmas, Diwali or Navratri. They are all about spreading love."
Founded in 2014, Salman Khan’s production company, Salman Khan Films, has produced six films so far: Dr. Cabbie, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Hero, Tubelight, Race 3, and Loveyatri. A seventh film, Bharat, starring Salman in the lead role, is presently in production. About the star’s popularity in her native country of Afghanistan, Warina says, "He is huge there. You will see his posters behind every taxi. His Tere Naam hairstyle is still very popular in the barbershops of Kabul. Bollywood is massive in Afghanistan. Nobody there knows what a bell-bottom is, but if you mention Amitabh Bachchan-style, they will definitely give you what you want."
Asked if as a producer Salman Khan interferes with the making process of a film, Loveyatri’s director Abhiraj Minawala says, "Believe me, I had complete freedom over this film. When I first read the script, I felt there was a lot I could bring to it, since I am Gujarati and I also know London, where the second-half is set. Salman bhai happily allowed me to make changes to the script. Later, when we wrapped up our first schedule in Baroda and I showed him a rough cut, he looked at me, gave me a thumbs up and said, 'This looks good.'"