EXCLUSIVE: Abhishek Kapoor on Kedarnath ban: Both Hindus and Muslims have watched it; they aren't offended
We recently got to meet Abhishek Kapoor, director of Kedarnath and he got candid about working with Sara Ali Khan, Sushant Singh Rajput and the Rs 50 Crores plus the film has made. He also told us what kept him positive when the film landed in troubled waters. Read on.
Abhishek Kapoor's Kedarnath starring Sara Ali Khan and Sushant Singh Rajput finally released after battling all odds. It was a roller-coaster ride for the director and the actors. But as said, all's well that ends well. The film crossed the 50-crore mark at the box office and has been received well by the audience. Sara was appreciated for her role as Mukku and Sushant was nature when he portrayed the role of Mansoor.
The film brings to life, the pain of those people who suffered at the wake of Uttarakhand floods. We recently got to meet Abhishek Kapoor and he got candid about working with Sara Ali Khan, who has been lauded for her Bollywood debut and Sushant Singh Rajput whom he introduced to the film industry with the 2013 hit Kai Po Che. He also opened up about what kept him positive when the film landed in the troubled waters even when the shooting schedule wasn't over.
Here are excerpts from the interview:
The end was totally unpredictable. How are fans reacting to it?
They know the film is about Uttarakhand floods and that flood took away so many lives. I can't let my hero walking out of this alive. The point of telling the story this way is that people feel the pain of those people (those affected by floods). I mean as much as one likes to laugh, there's also a good feeling when you have to cry while watching the film. You come back with a feeling. At times, your heart should break after watching a film as then it stays for long.
Kedarnath has crossed the Rs 50-crore mark. For Sara Ali Khan, who is a newcomer, is a big deal. You gave a launchpad to her and also Sushant Singh Rajput in Kai Po Che. How do you build in that trust in newcomers?
Firstly, answering the numbers bit, they aren't that important. It should touch people's hearts. I have introduced Farhan, Sushant and now her (Sara Ali Khan). I have a record in bringing new talents to the country and the business. All the factors should click. Primarily, people should like the film because everyone is serving the film. Launching someone is not the criteria. They are playing characters and if individually, they start shinning, it's good. I like working with newcomers. I can be a taskmaster.
You have always been fearless in your approach towards filmmaking. There were hurdles in the making of Kedarnath. Was there any moment when you completely lost upon the faith?
The film is called Kedarnath and it's about Lord Shiva. It's not a film that many would attempt to make. With such a backdrop and shooting in Kedarnath with actors and crew, it all happened because of faith and gut. Few hurdles along the way don't matter when you have faith in what you are making as it becomes your own journey. The film is appreciated and it makes the whole effort completely worthy. But, never did I doubt that this movie will never be completed or it will not be appreciated.
What kept you positive...
I just know the film I am making and that I am captain of the ship. If I don't know where it's heading, then I shouldn't be at this ship at the very first place. For me, it's very important to be convinced that I am making the film and I know where I am taking it. Other people might not have the clue and they just invested in the project. Being the director, I had that clarity.
We are sure recreating Uttarakhand floods considering the VFX, CGI, and live-action wasn't easy. But, many people have issues with VFX. What about that?
I don't think it lacked. I think it told the story most sufficiently. One thing you can't deal with is people's expectations. All the films have been different. Rock On and Kedarnath are completely different. This is a story that has to be told and it is an important one. Regarding VFX, I think I have used sufficiently and this film does not cater to VFX heavy film. It's about drama.
There were many religious groups that had issues with the portrayal of a Muslim guy falling in love with a Hindu girl. What about creative liberty then?
I think we put a trailer which was 1.5 mins long and people made their own assumptions. Not letting a film release or banning it, this reaction comes out of fear. I have dealt with similar issues at the time of Kai Po Che. I have done it before and every filmmaker has different ideologies, mine is not to violate them. As a filmmaker, my attempt was to show a mirror to us, this is who we are. We were like this 20 years back and we are still the same. When you see a place like Kedarnath, Muslim porters carry Hindus on their back and it's a beautiful sight.
We keep on saying that we are a democratic country. Then why a filmmaker is not allowed to show things according to his creative sensibilities?
It's a very important question. We have digital platforms and everyone can see things, uncensored. But, the film medium is censored and I think, it's because it's approachable to the lowest common denominator. They are uneducated and they don't want them to be over-informed.
What about the ban on Kedarnath in Uttarakhand? Do you have anything to say on this?
Yes, please unban it. Go and watch Kedarnath as rest of the country has seen it. They are not being offended by it. They are so Hindus and Muslims. My humble prayed would be to them is to let Kedarnath release.
How do you rate Sara as an actor and were Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh concerned when the movie landed in troubled waters?
Sara is a newcomer and she has done well in her first film. She submitted herself completely and she had good actors opposite her. Yes, the movie went through her tough issues but those were my issues. As a producer and director, it was my responsibility to deliver to the film in its healthy state. Saif and Amrita were concerned and they did speak about it. I constantly reassured them that I would deliver.
This is the second time you have worked with Sushant, first being Kai Po Che. Has your relationship evolved with him?
He has evolved in these years and so have I. When we met, we started off from where we left. We understand each other as professionals. I know how much he can give as I have worked with him in two projects - how deep he can dive in the character and I push him accordingly.
If you have to sum up 2018, how would you do that? What are expectations from 2019?
2018 has, definitely, been a roller-coaster ride, but the good part about 2018 is that I had another son. My babies have kept my spirit up. My wife, Pragya, who was also the producer of my film - having a support system like that makes everything fun. Let's see what 2019 gets in store, I am ready for it.
For more such interviews, stay tuned in!
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