Neeraj Pandey on Sidharth Malhotra in Aiyaary: I wanted someone who’s vulnerable

Neeraj Pandey's Aiyaary has finally hit the screens after a lot of jerks. The movie stars Manoj Bajpayee, Sidharth Malhotra and Rakul Preet in the lead roles. In an interview, Neeraj got candid about why he chose such a sensitive subject.
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Neeraj Pandey has been known for his vision of unconventional cinema. The director's Aiyaary has finally hit the screens after a lot of jerks and delay in the release. In an interview with a leading daily, he was asked, does expectations bother him? On this, he said, "I’m not a victim for sure. And honestly, if people expect content from my films, then that’s my earning. I love the fact that people are pre-conditioned when they watch my films. It’s not a burden, but an asset."

Talking about changing sensibilities, Neeraj said, "We’re a little older now. So there’s more maturity and experience. You tend to be conscious of the fact that you can’t let your audiences down. For me, they are of paramount importance. When they’ve liked my films, there has not been a bigger gratification and that’s what has kept us going as a creative person running my company. I hope that continues."
What made him choose Aiyaary? Neeraj said, "I was working on Baby when this started. I was meeting a lot of people from the armed forces and in one specific interaction that I had, the idea of the story germinated. Then, obviously, I went on to do MS Dhoni: The Untold Story. Post that, we were figuring out what to do next. That’s when the thought of that idea came back, I started doing my research and wrote the script."
Is there any pressure on him on raking in numbers for Aiyaary just like MS Dhoni? On this, he said, "Not at all. I always knew this film will not be as big as the Dhoni biopic. I don’t expect it to achieve those numbers because it’s a very different film. That film had more mass appeal. As a storyteller, it was a safe film. I am not running down the work on that film, but conceptually, it was easier. We just had to execute it well. We had to just surprise the audience. Aiyaary is not a very ‘massy’ film, but at the same time, it’s an interesting movie. You will get to see things you’ve never seen before or that people don’t want to talk about. Aiyaary is closest to my first film, A Wednesday, in terms of its tone and tenor. This was a difficult film because it’s like getting into a dark tunnel as there were no references. You have to find a way. We loved the fact that the journey was unique for this film."
Aiyaary has been in hot water for its sensitive subject. On this, he said, "I wasn’t apprehensive, but there’s definitely an unwritten rider, which I’m very conscious about, as a writer. You have to say things in a certain manner. We have spoken about several issues since our first film and the reason why we have got that acceptance is because of the fact that we aren’t jingoistic. We aren’t running people down and we are not into just sensationalism. It’s never been our approach. It’s not that these things don’t happen, but have they been spoken about? No! Which is why we are making the film. The army is an institution that we have tremendous respect for. Baby was our way of showing respect to them and Aiyaary is also in the same league and spirit."
Sidharth Malhotra has never explored such a genre. When asked if he was the director's first choice for the role, Neeraj said, "Yes, he was. I wanted someone who’s vulnerable but can also come across as a strong person. We wanted that combination and Sidharth was a natural fit for that. He is playing a young major in the film and he was the only choice in the film."

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Amazing to hear good things about Sid! That's the Goodwill he has earned. Since he's an outsider I feel Industry Kids through their various networks always try to bring Sid down! He's an amazing person and an actor who's trying and learning how to survive in this cess pool of which KJo is the Queen Bee

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