Atul Manjrekar, director of ”˜Fanney Khan’ talks to TIDU

By Manju Mittal

Director Atul Manjrekar’s ”˜Fanney Khan’ is a compelling, musical drama, which will throw up some unexpected surprises for even the most avid of Bollywood fans. Atul had started his career working in ad films, then approached by Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra to direct ”˜Fanney Khan’, which is an official remake of Oscar-nominated Belgian film ”˜Everybody’s Famous’.

Fanney Khan is played by the evergreen actor Anil Kapoor, who is struggling to fulfill the dream of his daughter, Lata who wishes to be a singer. It is based on the relationship between father & daughter.

Here Atul Manjrekar talks about his passion for films and his experience of making his entry into Bollywood with film, ”˜Fanney Khan’.

Atul, as a first timer, having directed a film, how does it feel? Share your journey with us.

I feel great. I consider myself fortunate directing this film and overwhelmed with the response. This movie tells about real people and real situations. It’s been a great exciting journey. I have been collaborating and working with the award winning senior director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for many years. I have assisted him in films like Aks and Rang de Basanti. I love advertising and have worked with actors like Priyanka Chopra, Amtiabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpai for my ad films.

What motivated you to make ”˜Fanney Khan’?

Fanney Khan is based on the Belgian film, ”˜Everybody’s famous’ made in 2009 by Dominique Deruddere. Director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra who has directed films such as Rang de Basanti and Bhag Milka bhaag, bought the rights to the film. He called me one day to ask if I would be interested in making this film. I was little nervous at the start as I had only worked on advertising films till now. So I watched the original film and felt that it should be made for the Indian audience as well. I have to thank Rakeysh Mehra sir for this.

How was working with Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and what was the casting process for Fanney Khan?

When it comes to casting, every director has a wish list.  When I first approached her I knew she was the one. She is a gifted actress who’s easily embraceable. Aishwarya Rai also believed in the character. When I first narrated the story, I was very nervous about her accepting the part. As we discussed the script, she loved it. I wanted to highlight the whole body shaming aspect and she really liked that. She saw an opportunity to speak about it through the film.

I was very fortunate to have the best cast and crew. I always had Anil Kapoor in mind while writing the script of the film. It was a great experience working with Rajkumar Rao, Pihu, Girish Kulkarni and Divya Dutta In the film we have brilliant performances by the entire cast. They actually guided me a lot and never let me feel that this is my first film.

What was it about the Fanney Khan story that appealed to you the most?

Well, what really appealed to me was ”˜Fanney Khan’ tackles a very sensitive crucial issue of body shaming in today’s time. Anil Kapoor’s character’s daughter is a good singer like her dad, but is a bit overweight. For this, she is ridiculed by people.

For me, the whole film is about appearance, and also its musical, there were a lot of talented people who could sing, dance or act. It was difficult to get opportunities in the 80s and 90s.  It was only in the 2000 that reality shows came in. Now you will definitely get a chance to show your talent to the world. There wasn’t all this before.

Would you consider film making a tough task?

Yes, definitely I must say filmmaking is a very tough job but rewarding.

What kind of films you want to make in the future?

It all depends on what touches my heart. I will be making film with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for another story soon; we are working on it currently.

And a few last words for our readers.

I just want to say I am thankful to all who have watched my first Bollywood film ”˜Fanney Khan’. It is a human story with value. If you haven’t watched do see it in theatre.

”˜Fanney Khan’ has been produced by T-Series, Anil Kapoor Films & Communications Network and Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra Pictures. It is a must watch film. It is a family story with great message. Our best wishes for Fanney Khan. Being his first film Atul has proved himself as an independent filmmaker and this is an achievement in itself.



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