In 2011, when the sleeper hit Pyaar Ka Punchnama hit the screens, it changed the lives of three people — director Luv Ranjan and its lead actors Kartik Aaryan and Nushrat Bharucha. While none of us would have given this rom-com much chance to excel at the box office, the performance of PKP surprised many. After all, who can forget Kartik’s angry yet comical 5-minute boy rant that single-handedly managed to capture the essence of the film. It has achieved a kind of cult-status of its own.
Bollywood’s latest offering Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety comes from the same brand of filmmaking and brings the much-loved trio back to the screen. Incidentally, all of Ranjan’s directorial outings till now cast the same leading pair, Kartik and Nushrat.
But even though both PKP, its 2015 sequel and now SKTKS have went on to rake in some big numbers at the box office, a lot of people were left wondering why Ranjan would choose to show his women as nothing more than cardboard cut-outs. In his latest SKTKS too, the male perspective is undeniable. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, director Ranjan opens up on the alleged misogyny in SKTKS, casting the same actors and his unique style of filmmaking.
After jokingly questioning the existence of the large section of population who believe his films are misogynistic, Ranjan goes on to make his case. “I think what we have become too serious with our films and try to intellectualise something that is not meant to be intellectualised. Humour has its own space in society, forget films. Political correctness is not always a great thing,” he says.
Ranjan also opines that if he had reversed the gender roles in the film, nobody would have said a word. “We are being too touchy. People just generalise everything. I am not saying that women are bad. I am just telling you the story of three women who were wrong. Are you trying to tell me that half the population of the world (women) is all good?”
In his defense, Ranjan brings his second film Akaash Vani (2013) to the conversation which, to be fair, did treat its male and female leads equally. “If for people PKP and SKTKS are misogynistic, I believe Akaash Vani is a feminist film.” Ranjan even maintains that Akaash Vani is not just his but even Nushrat and Kartik’s best work till date. But didn’t Akaash Vani tank miserably at the box office? “I sometimes do feel that if Akaash Vani would have released today, it would have done better,” he accepts.
He goes on to talk about the aftermath Akaash Vani’s failure. “When Akaash Vani didn’t work, I had to come back and make my films viable again. I am a practical filmmaker. I do want to make stories in every different genre. But films take a lot of time. They do not get made in five months. It takes me almost two years, from inception to release,” he adds.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is Ranjan’s bond with Kartik and Nushrat. If anything, it has gone stronger. “There is a certain understanding within the three of us that has come over time. The good thing is we have not stagnated. All of us are growing as artistes and it is not like we are going to the same set, it is more like going to the same environment in terms of comfort with people. And at the same time, we are still able to surprise each other,” shares Ranjan. “Till the time that is happening in a good way, I don’t think there is any point of problem.”
“It’s true that I have done four films with Kartik and Nushrat but a lot of people don’t notice that I have worked with a lot of other actors as well. This is also my third film with Sunny. The truth is I have introduced five boys to the industry. And if I have a film in the future which I feel that someone else can do better justice to, I would definitely cast someone else.”
Another thing that has been widely appreciated in Ranjan’s films is the way he captures the desi North-Indian setting. And just like his actors, this is also something that has remained consistent in all his work. But Ranjan is quick to express his readiness to take new initiatives in that regard. He tells us, “As a filmmaker, my journey has just started and hopefully it will take me to different characters, different stories, different places and different languages. I don’t want to change something just for the heck of changing it. I am currently comfortable telling stories of the world that I grew up in and of the world that I understand better. If I ever come across a story that I feel that should be told in a different part of the country or a different part of the world, I will. Till now, my stories have been very compatible with the setting of the northern areas or majorly Delhi.”
There may be a lot of similarities between Pyaar Ka Punchnama and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety but Luv Ranjan the director has come a long way from 2011 to 2018.
“I would definitely like to believe that I am a better filmmaker now. I understand my technique better. I still have a lot to learn. But if I compare it to the time I entered the industry, I have come a long way. I came to Bombay when I was 19. I assisted on a couple of films and realised that what I really want is to write my own films. I am very patient man, basically. (chuckles) I sat for two years without any work just believing that I want to direct my own film. So, hopefully, as you see my journey further, you will start believing in me more.”