It seems like controversies won’t leave Kangna Ranaut’s side anytime soon. The Kangna Ranaut-Apurva Asrani- Hansal Mehta row over the proper writing credits for Simran has been the currently the talk of the nation over the past couple of weeks now. It is the kind of controversy that has resulted in the end of the partnership between Hansal Mehta and Apurva Asrani.
In case you haven’t followed it, Simran writer Apurva Asrani wrote a very detailed blasting post accusing Kangna of twisting her way into getting a co-writer credit in the film. Not only that, he also called out director Hansal Mehta to show some spine and stand up for what is right. While this was unfolding, in a recent twist, Apurva Asrani was accused of stealing the writing credit from a writer named Sameer Gautam during the film Shahid. In an elaborate post, Sameer claimed that Apurva made it a point to get a screenwriter credit and Hansal Mehta was in dilemma about it as Apurva was just the editor on the film.
Now, in a blasting interview with Huffingpost India, Kangna Ranaut has hit back at Apurva Asrani. In an elaborate interview, she said that she and Hansal Mehta weren’t happy with Apurva Asrani’s script and had to rework on it while on the sets in the US.
Talking about current scenario and how the film came about, Kangna Ranaut said, “When I was shooting for Tanu Weds Manu Returns in Gurgaon in December 2014, Hansal Mehta came to me with Sarbjit. A 15-page draft. I did not like it. He told me he’ll improve on it and we jointly decided to work on it. Eventually the project never flew and someone else made it. But the idea always was to collaborate as I’ve been a fan of Hansal’s work. I told him that if we align our sensibilities, we’ll have a winner at hand. My intention was to take Hansal Mehta and bring him in a fun, slice-of-life zone. When he was in the US, he called me and mentioned a BBC documentary on a woman who took to a life of crime. He said he wanted to develop it with me in the lead. I agreed, saying let’s work on this together. Apurva was nowhere in the picture. When I asked Hansal who’s writing it, he told me he usually collaborates with his editor, Apurva Asrani, and that’s how he came into the picture. Hansal assured me about his credentials saying he ‘almost’ wrote Shahid and Aligarh and being a fan of these films, I agreed to come on-board.”
Kangna also said that they had to rework on the project as Apurva Asrani had written a dark thriller that he had submitted at Film Writers Association. “Apurva’s story was this dark thriller about a drug-addict who goes into a life of crime. It also had a lot of flavour of Wolf of Wall Street with share market jargon thrown in. I made it very clear that if we’re making a film with a budget of Rs 30 crores, we need to make at least 60 cr, to even break-even. With the kind of script we had, that wouldn’t be possible as it’d appeal to very limited people. Hansal then told me that I was free to talk to Apurva and get the script tweaked to make it more accessible. Now let’s make something very clear: actors are very money-oriented. Some actors even take money to cut ribbons at a store. I’m not dying to lend my creative ideas and writing ideas when I’m being paid to act. Actors always want to be blown away by a dazzling script. When that’s not the case, you need to fix it. When I started collaborating with Apurva, I realised this isn’t a writer who matches my expectations. And when I enquired about his previous writing work, I realised he hadn’t done them,” she asserted.
Kangna claims that she was the one to add the divorcee angle, Gujarati angle, love story and a housekeeper angle to the story which was never mentioned in Asrani’s draft. She even asked Hansal Mehta to hire a team of writers as Asrani couldn’t deliver what they wanted to show on screen. She did agree that he had written 9 drafts but they were so many of them which did not live up their vision of what they had from the film.
Talking about Apurva Asrani’s claims that she had loved the script, Kangna further hit back saying, “I apparently jumped at those ideas because of how genius it was. Seriously? If it was so good, why oh why, would I have to do rewrites? This never ever happened. Yes, there were sessions but those were mostly me expressing my disappointment with the writing. Nobody can take away from the fact that if Simran today is a story of a divorced woman, it’s entirely introduced by me. If the film has feminist undercurrents, I included that. The father-daughter track, the lover’s track in the film — these are subplots that I added. Even Apurva cannot take away from that, why should I be giving my precious time when I already have other commitments. It was a trying time also because I was shooting Rangoon at that time, a very difficult film. I had to do these things because I wasn’t given a team of competent writers. Later on, Hansal did a draft of his own and I could sense that he was under enormous pressure. He wanted to break away from Apurva but he couldn’t. We did three drafts together and I still wasn’t satisfied. I couldn’t sense a spark. Finally, Hansal and I agreed that we’ll fine tune this in the US (they reached there about a fortnight in advance) and I’ll write the dialogues on sets.”
Apurva has also claimed that he wasn’t informed at all about the rewrites that went down while Hansal and Kangna were filming the US. She also informed that during the filming of Simran she had gotten in a car accident. This was the reason she had taken help from her diction expert who would write dialogues on set while she dictated him.
Kangna said, “I asked Hansal to inform him. I was warned not to get into it as he’s a nightmare to deal with when it comes to credits. While in the US, I got into a car accident. My MRIs revealed that I had suffered some level of damage. I couldn’t physically write after that. I told Hansal, ‘please call Apurva as we need someone to do the writing’. Hansal didn’t want to. He said if he calls him now, Apurva will lose it and not let us proceed with the shooting as the changes are significant. I didn’t get into it as I thought Hansal will deal with it on his own as he shares a very long association with him. The guy who was tutoring me in Gujarati eventually wrote the lines of dialogues that I dictated. Hansal’s son Jay Mehta also helped. I’ll ensure both of them get credited under ‘Special Thanks.'”
Kangna also revealed that they had a sit down with Apurva Asrani, the producer of Simran Shailesh R Singh, Hansal Mehta and herself to make the credits legal. “We sat with him (Hansal and producer, Shailesh Singh) and signed off the legal paperwork where his credits were in place. He harassed us a lot during this. I was done. All I told my team was I want him out of the film. He was supposed to edit the film. Now he no longer is. He kept telling Hansal and everyone that I don’t admire or respect him. Which is true. I cannot fake my admiration or respect for someone I have neither for. I have never done that. All Apurva is after is his two minutes of fame. And try to plaster his name on my work. He can try to do that, but he won’t be able to.”
It was also revealed that many times Kangna had said no to a film because the makers would not like that she would give inputs. She was offered Sultan but producer Aditya Chopra wasn’t too keen about Kangna’s involvement and hence they had to let her go of the film.
Talking about the stealing the credits claim, Kangna refuted the claims saying that she would not take credits for someone else’s hard work. “I also am a reasonable person. I don’t want to steal someone’s work. But at the same time, I also don’t want to feel shortchanged for the additional work I have put in. Since co-writer was not an option, I settled for additional story and additional dialogue. The basic blueprint of the film was still Apurva’s and he has been duly credited for that. What else does he want, I fail to understand,” she added.
After the recent revelation about writer drama with Shahid, Kangna also claimed that it wasn’t the first time he wanted to encash on someone else’s credit. “He saw all the changes that I made and now wants to encash on that by putting his name there. And he’s been doing that in the past! Why don’t you check with the original writer of Shahid? This is not an isolated incident,” she asserted.