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Filmmaker Aanand L Rai, who is co-producing Anurag Kashyap's directorial venture "Mukkabaz", says he doesn't interfere with the casting in a film as he feels he would rather cast the right director to do justice to a good story.
"Mukkabaaz" will revolves around a lower caste aspiring boxer from Haryana. The central character faces a series of obstacles in his way to succeed under a socio-political situation of classism and cow vigilantism.
The film holds a social relevance in present times. Instead of casting an A-list film star which could make a huge difference at the box office, why did he let Kashyap cast a less popular Vineet Kumar Singh?
Rai told IANS: "Well, Anurag is the director of the film and he wanted to project reality in a certain manner by casting his choice of actors. As a producer, I never interfere in that process because I cast the director of the film.
"I can question a director about something, but I cannot question someone's passion. The core element between Anurag and his film is the passion. Therefore, I do not like to interfere in between."
A film is mostly a vision of a director, and content has been considered 'king'. As a producer, isn't he bothered about optimising box office for his projects?
"I am driven by passion, but that does not mean I am a bad businessman. It's just that I am not a greedy one. Even as a producer, I think like a storyteller, and box office number comes as the fourth element in my thought process.
"Perhaps that is why the last two years worked well for me as a producer with 'Happy Bhag Jayegi', 'Newton' and 'Shubh Mangal Saavdhan'. The audience's reaction to a story and the impact matters to me the most," he said.
The filmmaker also credits the new-age business patterns for encouraging people to take risks as producers.
"The business of cinema is changing nowadays. When we talk about making the profit from our investment as a filmmaker, it is not only coming from its theatrical release, but also from digital avenues.
"So, we better take the risk to support better stories as producers."
While the story is surely a key criterion for Rai to agree to a project, asked if balancing between creativity and commerce is possible in the same film, he cited examples of filmmakers he considers his idols.
"We are a movie making nation where the work of Bimal Roy, Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee have been celebrated. As an audience, you know the value of those films... All their films are a reflection of the society of their era.
"Their films subconsciously influenced me in my growing days and I believe that we as filmmakers should capture the time and era that we are living in. They started the journey and we should carry forward the legacy," said Rai, who has himself directed movies like "Tanu Weds Manu" and "Raanjhanaa".
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at email@example.com)
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