Love tends to overlook ideologies, relationships don’t, and that’s why the idea of people who have polar opposite belief system coming together doesn’t seem plausible. But, this is exactly what director Shashank Khaitan has attempted to explore with his second film, Badrinath ki Dulhania.
The director says that he has seen many relationship conflicts over opposing beliefs around him and that compelled him to write the film starring Varun Dhawan and Alia Bhatt in lead roles. “The core is man and woman, love and respect, and the role of that in a relationship. I have always seen around me and I have been judgmental about it. I have tried to be neutral about it and also tried to have no opinion about it. Today especially, there is so much talk around man, woman, the role of women, feminist, chauvinist and as a story-teller, I questioned myself. How can I bring this out in the most normal way without judging either side? It is easy to point fingers at everybody but it is tough to tell a neutral story and then let people decide what is right and wrong,” Shashank said in an interview.
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“I have had the good fortune of having great, strong women in my life and sometimes when I see the other side, I feel why can’t these women be treated the same way the women are treated in my house. You realise circumstances over there are different, their upbringing is different and education is different. So, I have tried to use whatever limited understanding I have of that life, of what I have seen around me and then tell this story of two characters — Badri and Vaidehi,” added the director-writer.
Badrinath ki Dulhania is the sequel to highly successful romantic comedy Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania, which was also helmed by Shashank. Even though the nature of the latest film is different from Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania, Shashank maintained the story is treated in the same light-hearted fashion as the first movie was.
— Varun Badri Dhawan (@Varun_dvn) March 8, 2017
“Badri is the one we love to hate, the chauvinist, and Vaidehi is also one whom we love to hate, who is apparently a feminist, and then try to get them on the same level for love. How can these two characters ever fall in love? How can they ever try to lead a simple life? That’s been the journey. That’s done in the most commercial way I could. By telling the story, not with sorrow but with joy.”
With the success of Humpty Sharma ki Dulhania, the thought of turning it into a franchise shouldn’t have been unusual, but Shashank revealed that initially there were no plans for building a film series until producer Karan Johar heard the script of Badrinath ki Dulhania.
“When I wrote this film, it wasn’t for the franchise. I wrote it as my second independent film. After hearing the narration, Karan said, ‘I really like the name Badrinath Bansal, and as this story also deals with love and marriage, it would be interesting if we design a franchise around it so that anyone who wants to tell the story with love and shaadi, he or she can use it as a part of the Dulhania series.’ It was just an idea, we thought about it for a week and suddenly we were all excited about it,” Shashank said.
Varun and Alia, individually and as an on-screen couple, were loved in the first film. Shashank, who is close friends with both the actors, said the three of them were conscious about not collaborating again for the sake of their equation.
“I didn’t custom-make the script for Varun and Alia but by the time, I finished writing it, I was sure that they could really pull it off and they would be the best choice. After Humpty was over, we three chatted. After a successful film, there is always this discussion, where people are excited and think, ‘We will work together again!’ But we had decided that we would not take emotional decisions. If we take decisions for friendship’s sake and if the film flops, we will start blaming each other.”
The director said that the demarcation between their professional and personal is so clear that when he went to Alia and Varun with another script, before Badrinath, they turned him down because they didn’t like it. “After Humpty, I wrote one script about which the two of them were not excited, and it was absolutely fine. Yet, in the evening, we were having coffee together. They said, ‘You didn’t write a good script,’ and I said, ‘Fine, I will write another’,” Shashank said.
Badrinath ki Dulhania, produced by Dharma Productions, releases March 10.