Aanand  L Rai On His  Astonishing Journey As  A Producer

After a  disastrous start Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkaabaaz,a smalltown’s boxer’s love story, perhaps Kashyap’s most a typical  film to date, has picked up at the  boxoffice.

Trade experts say the film will do “another Newton” at the  boxoffice. Just months ago director Amit Masurkar’s  film on an electoral crisis in  a tribal area featuring Rajkummar Rao had done a  similarboxoffice turn-around  after Newton was selected as India’s entry to the Oscars.

Mukkaabaaz has not been selected  for any soecial honour. Yet movie critics  and trade experts say this Rs 3-crore budgeted  film will eventually do a businss  of  at  least Rs 20 crores, making it one of the most profitable films in recent times.

The factor common to both Newton and Mukkaabaaz is producerAanand L Rai, a filmmaker with a formidable reputation who seems to have hit the right formula on how to make successes out of small-budgeted  out-of-the-box films.

Aanand’s journey as a producer started with Nil Battey Sannatta in  2016,a comely honest and straightforward  film on female literacy which hit home. Followed Happy Bhaag Jayegi a romcom on a runaway bride who lands  up in Pakistan .

Both surprise successes.In fact Aanand has  the rare  distinction of cent percent success ratio as a producer.

Question him about it and he modestly shrugs off all credit. “I guess somewhere  the  filmmaker’s  neeyat, his intention  is bound to make an impression  on the audience. I sincerely believe that if a filmmaker does his job well he will be rewarded with success. As a director when I tried something very different within the commercial framework inTanu Weds Manu and Raanjhana I was warned against taking a risk by signing Madhavan and Dhanush  in the lead. Big names in the South, but more important,fabulous actors. To me  it didn’t matter which language they worked in. It was their talent  not their cultural identity that carried them forward.”

If Aanand’s gambit as a director has worked as a  producer he  took even bigger risks by agreeing to back projects with new/unsuccessful  directors Ashwini Iyer Tiwari(Nil Battey Sannatta), MusassarAziz(Happy Bhaag Jayegi), R Prasanna(Shubh Mangal Savdhaan) , and now  Anurag Kashyap (Mukaabaaz) who hasn’t had a boxofficesuccess in years.

“This is   a  new Anurag Kashyap that audiences see in Mukkaabaaz. I firmly believe in the power  of cinema  to move audiences. Anuraghas made a moving film. And the actor Vineet Kumar has  slogged  like a crazy  man for his character. Vineet was disheartened when the film opened low. I told him to hang on. I was confident about the film,” says Aanand with the affection  of  a protective paternal  figure.

Aanand currently directs Shah Rukh Khan in Zero.

The  director is confident about bringing  a new twist to the Superstar’s career. “This will be  Shah Rukh Khan that audiences haven’t seen as yet.”


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