Awe struck by Gulzar’s screen play for MIRZYA, left Rakyesh Omprakash Mehra in a dilemma. “You know once the script was ready.. I mean the story script, the draft, not the screenplay, I was on floors with Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. In fact there was a time when I had to decide whether to make Bhaag Milkha Bhaag first or Mirzya, and I realised that I need to live with Mirzya much longer to understand the intricacies. The writing was so beautiful, so layered and Gulzar’s writing is like that and we all know that. His writing is legendary and he was writing a screenplay after a gap of 12 years. The last time he had done was for himself and so which was amazing.
Not depending on an already established stars and gambling his much anticipated project, Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra chose to cast new comers for the want of the script and also to give the audience a new prejudice free experience of the film.“After the screenplay was done and we went into the casting exercise…we would write on the board option 1,2,3 for various characters, then I shut my eyes and there were no faces which were coming to me, who would fit the characters then and there, so it was quite evident that we are looking for newcomers. It required a very fresh approach. I did not want to disappoint the audience to come to see their favourite stars and you know to come to see what they expect from their favourite star. I wanted the audience to experience something new rather than watch their favourite icons so it’s not the first time that has happened in cinema…all actors have to do their first film. Apart from Siyami and Harshwardhan, we have more two newcomers…there’s Anuj Chowdhury, Anjali Patil as well. Now when I see the edit of the film it brings a sense of freshness to the story. For that I must say..thank god we went for new faces.”
With films like Baag Milkha Bhaag, Rang De Basanti, Delhi 6, AKS, to his credit, he attempted a love story with Mirzya. “I saw the play at college…since then the questions were in my heart. As a storyteller as a director, my job is to explore and say something, go out on a journey hold the audience’s hands and take them along with you.There is a part of me who is an eternal romantic, who wants to fall in love…all of us are. It is such a basi c emotion. We all look for love. Various stories say that in various ways… and here there was a perfect opportunity for me to express myself. Also if you see the way things have kind of panned out for me…not such a huge film there… when I started my first film Aks, followed by Rang De Basanti which was a socio-political drama, followed by Delhi 6 which was a black comedy picking up the question of religious intolerance…followed by Bhaag Milkha Bhaag which dwelled in the indomitable human spirit within you it also dealt with something which is quite close to my heart which is the partition of India. For me, I have always wondered whether I should celebrate the independence of India or kind of dwell on the partition of the country where millions lost their lives. Milkha was one of the victims who grew up with the hatred of Pakistan, but in the end of the story he comes around and that is the message I wanted to convey. So you see all the films have different structures and as a storyteller, once you’ve told something, it’s almost compelling to not repeat yourself. And cinema being such a fabulous art form you can move on…and explore new branch.”