I would have not made Raazi without Alia Bhatt: Meghna Gulzar

By Neeru Saluja

Sensitive filmmaker Meghna Gulzar has once again delved into narrating a true life story with ”˜Raazi’. As the much anticipated film has been receiving raving reviews, the director was both excited and nervous when we talked to her a day before the film’s release.

The daughter of filmmaker-lyricist Gulzar and actress Rakhee has always touched sensitive subjects with her films, whether it was surrogate motherhood in her debut film ”˜Filhaal’ or the Aarushi murder case in ”˜Talvar’. But with ”˜Raazi’, the story just kept on coming back to her as the book first landed in the hands of her father Gulzar.

Based on Harinder Sikka’s novel “Calling Sehmat” and set in 1971 before the India-Pakistan war, the film is a tale of a Kashmiri girl (Sehmat played by Alia Bhatt) whose life changes as she becomes an undercover spy.

Excerpts from the interview:

What part of the book ”˜Calling Sehmat” inspired you to turn it into a film?

The determination and selflessness of the 20-year-old young girl is actually what grabbed me. More than that as a true story, it overwhelmed me completely that people like this exist. Even though the anonymity is really important to her, I felt the story should be told to a wider audience.

Do you feel that your film has done justice to the book?

The book is extremely extensive and I have picked the core story of the girl and her journey to Pakistan. Like every film made from a book, I have taken the written word a few steps ahead in the visual medium.

Is it true that you would have not made Raazi without actress Alia Bhatt?

Absolutely. She has spoiled me as a director. The reason I say I would have not made the film is because when I read about Sehmat I had started imagining her and Alia matched that image perfectly. She’s young and there is a vulnerability to her persona as an actress. I was fortunate that she said yes to the film. After that, there was no stop. As an actor, she worked very hard and prepared herself for the character, which is very inspiring.

Do you think this film will be the highlight of her acting career?

This film will definitely be another feather in her cap, but I can’t say that it will be the highlight of her career. She is just 25 years old and has just began. She has a lot in store for her.

What kind of challenges did you face as a director while making ”˜Raazi’?

The biggest challenge was trying to create a story based in 1971 in 2017. We had to create Rawalpindi in Punjab. There was also a thin line between selfishness and selflessness in the film. It was a tricky rope to walk on for myself as a director and also for my actors.

How was it shooting the film in Kashmir? You have fond memories of the beautiful city as a kid when your mum, actress Rakhee was shooting for the film ”˜Kabhi Kabhi’.

It was very beautiful. There is a reason why it is called ”˜Heaven on Earth’. And it’s not only because of the beauty of Kashmir, it’s also because of the beautiful people. Very few people are fortunate enough to close circles in their life like I have. As a child, I went there with my mother and father for their films, and now I got a chance to shoot my film with my son accompanying me on the sets.

From Filhaal to Raazi, how would you describe your journey as a director?

I’m exploring my craft deeper than I used to. I was 27 years old when I made Filhaal and now I’m 44. Age and experience does make a difference. I’m also gravitating towards true life stories which is a very big factor because it comes with a huge responsibility. This makes me work harder and it shows in my films.

Both of your parents are highly accomplished in their respective fields. Which of their traits have you inherited and used in your form of art?

I don’t think it has to do with our professional overlapping but more with the genetics like any child. My temperament is like my mother, where she is a bit short-tempered. But then I have inherited the stability and serenity of my father. But what I have tried to imbibe from my mother is the dignity she has used in her professional and personal life. My father whether it’s his living style or his craft has always used simplicity and honesty. I try to use these values and keep my craft honest and simple.

As your film touches a sensitive subject, what would you like your audience to feel after watching this film?

I don’t want to give any message out or reveal the story, I really want the audience to experience the film. Please give it a chance. Don’t judge the film by a cover. Let the film unravel what it is saying to you. Making this film has been an unforgettable journey for me, and I would want the audience to be part of that journey through this film.

Brought to you by Zee Studios, the film is being screened all over Australia in Events cinemas.



Short URL: https://indiandownunder.com.au/?p=11018