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My Interview Was Edited,” Sandeep Vanga

Subhash K . Jha

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Sandeep, can we  start at  the  interview with Anupama Chopra which has  created  an unprecedented furore?

Yes, I know. I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. I speak my mind unfiltered. And  this was  my first  interview after Kabir Singh released. If my film had come and gone quietly no one would have bothered.

You sounded very angry and defensive  in  the  interview?

I had to say what  I had  to say. And  then they  cut out portions of my  comments so that  people don’t know what I said  before and after some of the comments that have created a controversy. The content was edited  in a very wrong way. So that a section of women got another chance to attack me. But I  was trying to explain my  protgaonist’s mindset. How  Arjun Reddy/Kabir Singh feels  is not exactly what I feel. Violence may be his way of expressing love. It’s  not mine.

Why say that one  needs to slap  one’s partner to be honest  in the relationship?

I  never said  one “needs” to slap . All I meant was , one needs  to be fully honest in a committed relationship.And that honesty  can take  on a violent form. And why is only  Kabir slapping his girlfriend  Preeti  being  talked about? What about the fact that she too slaps him back? It works both ways .How they express  their love is  their choice. Why are some people  judging them? And judging me for the way the characters behaviour? My point is, in a true relationship  the emotions can get raw and  violent.

Okay so when you speak  of  violence in a relations you are speaking for your character.What  about you? Would you  resort to violence  with  your partner?

I would  do anything and everything with  my partner to make sure I am  my real self. I would drop all  defences,  pull down all my guards. For me the  essence of a strong  relationship is  honesty.I wouldn’t  say I’d slap my partner.Even in the film… how do I explain  to the  idiots  that , ‘Preeti ne pehle mari hai,phir Kabir ne maara’.It’s pointless  to harp on the  slap.

It was in very bad taste for you to bring up a movie critic’s weight.Calling Rajiv Masand ‘fat’  is just not done?

It’s not as  if I am hitting out at all critics.Some have been deliberately below-the-belt,only 2-3 of them really have really behaved  like parasites. You could literally see  the  hatred(for  the  film) in their eyes.

But how does  it matter  what some critics think?

You are saying this  because Kabir Singh is a hit. You feel , why the  need to  get defensive?But  it’s  not about  success  or failure. It’s about the mindset  of  certain critics who get a kick out  of pulling down any film that goes beyond the bandwidth  of  acceptable morality.You can’t take two points from my film and  make  a review. I later  got to know that this  guy(Masand) is famous and  people  listen to his reviews.

But his review couldn’t damage  your film?

My film went beyond the  reviews. It has connected so  deeply with the  youngsters that such reviews  didn’t matter at all. But  reviews can affect a less successful film.

I have to  agree about  one thing with you. We can’t make films about flawless heroes alone?

That’s what I am saying. And  no  one  is flawless. Even the  biggest  heroes of  our  country have flaws. It  is what makes them human.

Isn’t  Kabir/Arjun partly your own story?Didn’t you also attend medical college  like your hero?

Yes. I did. You know, when you’re writing a character specially for  your first film, your own experiences are  bound to spill  into your writing.

Why did  you agree  to  do the remake?

When you get a call from an actor liek Shahid Kapoor,you are  bound to do a rethink on remakes. Then I met him in Mumbai and we  really jelled.I was excited about the challenge to tell the story for a  larger audience. I  didn’t treat Kabir Singh  as a remake.

So who’s  your favourite Vijay Deverakonda or Shahid Kapoor?

They both performed  exceedingly well. In some scenes Vijay was better. In some other scenes Shahid excelled.

 Coming from you, that is an unacceptable diplomatic  reply?

No no.I am not being diplomatic. Both worked really hard.

And which  version  do you like better, the Telugu Arjun Reddy  or  the Hindi Kabir Singh?

I worked equally hard on both. They are  both very similar and yet different. I always believed there  must be a reason for every shot in a film. I couldn’t just make changes because I was addressing a  bigger market in Hindi. Sure,it was a  big leap. But I had to remain true to  the  character.  There was  a purpose for following  the original.

What do you  have to say about Dhruv ,the  forthcoming Tamil  version of  Arjun Reddy?

I have nothing  to do with that. I was never asked to direct the Tamil  version.My AD(assistant director) is directing it.I wish the project all the best. I love  and admire Vikram  Sir(Tamil actor whose  son is being launched  in Dhruv).And I’d only want good things to  happen to his family. They made the film once and scrapped the whole film and made it again. It takes guts to do that.

Did  the level  of success  of Kabir Singh take  you by surprise?

It did. The level of success and  the volume of hatred  both took me surprise. Arjun Reddy got  a lot more  love  from the Telugu critics. A  very senior Telugu  critic took her 14-year  old daughter  to see Arjun Reddy. That  was my best review.And she  is  a true feminist ,not a pseudo-feminist. After the  love given to Arjun Reddy I  wasn’t ready for the bashing that critics gave Kabir Singh.

And  yet Kabir Singh  is a phenomenal success?

I  had a heard  a cult status  only happens once to a film.But the Hindi  version  is a much bigger  film than the  Telugu version.I’ve seen Kabir Singh with the audience. The way they reacted to some scenes, for me it  was the greatest award. This  was  the  audience I had made the  film for.And they were on  my side.

When will  you  work with Vijay Deverakonda again?

The sooner the better. We share a  fabulous equation.

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