Alia was the only choice, wouldn’t have made ‘Raazi’ without her, says director Meghna Gulzar

Raazi’s success is sweeping the people off their feet and the one woman who is responsible for it all is Meghna Gulzar. To think the film had come to her thrice before she actually sat with it, tells you that such mind-boggling cinema, sometimes needs divine intervention, writes SHUBARNA MUKERJI SHU

Meghna Gulzar is one of the most underrated directors we have in the industry. Each of her films has turned a new leaf in Indian cinema and yet, hers is not the name that features amongst the top ranks. Why? Because some people just believe in doing what they are meant to do, they don’t stop to see if they have managed to grab each and every eyeball. Yet today, with the phenomenal success her film has garnered, it does seem like the tide might finally change.

Seeing how well you have directed Alia Bhatt in Raazi, one cannot help but hope you both make a lot of movies together…

The character of Sehmat is that of a 20-year-old girl. Physically Alia was perfect for it. She gives you the impression of fragility and vulnerability, which was needed in the film. Frankly, she was the only choice and I wouldn’t have made the film without her. She knows that too because I told her before I had the script in the hand. She has told in many interviews that this is the first time that she had yes to a film without a script. I just met her and gave a narration for roughly around 10 mins. I was sure if she isn’t going to be a part of it, then it would have been difficult for me to even make the film.

Alia was the only choice, wouldn’t have made ‘Raazi’ without her, says director Meghna Gulzar

This adulation seems mutual, for Alia recently said she would give an arm to work with you again…

She is a fabulous actor and has totally set the bar for me when it comes to actor-director relationships. It will be very difficult for anyone else to supersede that.

Each and everyone in the film is so perfectly cast, especially you paring Vicky Kaushal with Alia…

One needed sensitivity to play Iqbal and Vicky has that, ingrained. He is very good in the film and has completely surpassed my expectations from what I imagined the portrayal should be like. His character goes through a tumultuous journey in this film and it wouldn’t have been possible without Vicky’s sensibilities.

Have you been able to detach yourself from ‘Raazi’ and see it subjectively yet? What is the one thing you have personally liked the film?

No, to be very honest, it’s very overwhelming. There is no way to predict these things and practically you have been living with this subject for two years from the time you started writing to shooting it till its completion. The objectivity becomes rare and your vision is myopic. However, there is this little trivia I would like to share. There is an Urdu prayer, which is sung in schools even today in Pakistan. My father used to sing that song as a child, we incorporated a line from it in the song, ‘Ae Watan….’ I somehow felt that completed the duality of the situation in the film, beautifully. In the film, Alia is teaching a song to some children, while they are singing it for Pakistan, she is singing it for her motherland…. I believe that’s the beauty of patriotic songs. Anyone can sing it for their own country.

Did you ever think the movie would be such a runaway success?

There’s no way to predict how the content you put out is going to be received. You get an idea when you start putting things together and start showing to a few people, but those are also connected to the film, so you really feel if it’s the emotional bias that’s playing up. But, this is complete validation from the people who are not connected to the film. It’s very encouraging and now I’m frightened because you know the expectations are only going to go higher.

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