Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s last film ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’ (2013) won many accolades for him and the team. However, in his forthcoming film, he’s attempting to do someone which is a little out-of-the-box for him. The film in question is ‘Mirzya’ which will see the debut of Anil Kapoor’s son Harshvardhan and the first B-town flick of Saiyami Kher. The story is one that many will know as a tragic romance of Punjab. The teaser trailer of the film was unveiled last week and BizAsia‘s Showbiz Editor Amrita Tanna had the unique opportunity to talk to Mehra about the forthcoming film.
What has the response been like of the teaser trailer?
The response has been that it۪s (the promo) quite different from what you۪d expect from Bollywood. Generally the feeling is that everyone wants to know more, which is exactly what the idea of the teaser is, to plant a seed into the subconscious.
It۪s been great to see a glimpse of Harshvardhan Kapoor and Saiyami Kher, and it was reported somewhere that you felt that you had to get up-to date with young romance and portray that on screen, where your daughter had helped you. How would you describe that being portrayed in Mirzya۪?
Aah, it۪s always the daughters (laughs). The sons are always misleading it (laughs). I started seeing life through my daughter۪s eyes. She turned 16 and my son۪s 14, and once you start respecting that point of view and start seeing the world how they see it, it۪s so much more exciting. So I۪ve borrowed their eyes and they۪ve taught me so much. You know for the longest time when my generation entered the movies, we have made beating, dwelling or flaunting the idea of romance, and here what I really wanted to achieve was how can I experience this, how can I become experienced with them, how can one do away with all the cliches, which I had associated with this term called love, romance, passion, falling in love, falling out of love, the possessiveness of it, the fail of it that rectifies. So all these terms came alive for me, and then I started interpreting. So there۪s the great folk tale of Mirza Sahiba, which I۪ve seen the play and read the playwright 30 years before the film. At that stage for me, there۪s a beautiful moment in the story, that Sahiba breaks all of Mirza۪s arrows. So he۪s not able to defend himself and in the process she sacrifices his life. She sacrifices the person she loved the most. So that always intrigued me, I thought why did Sahiba break the arrows. Why is it that the things we love the most, we hurt the most? Somewhere the journey started there. In the movie, it۪s recreating the folklore, which is Mirza in the period and then Mirza in the future which is my imagination. So as it came to me I tried to, as sincerely and as honestly as I could bring it out on screen. Then the same kind of story leads the way and echos the story and plays out in today۪s contemporary India, in Rajasthan, and how would the same thing play out in these two different worlds. And what it is for both worlds were to come together.
Did you find it easier having newcomers in the film?
I don۪t think it۪s really a question of being easier or difficult as that never occurred to me. I just felt that it was the right thing to do.
Do you feel a sense of pressure by launching newcomers in such an instilled love story?
I kind of shut that part of my way of thinking all together. I didn۪t want any pressure to – if they ever need to- show up on my work. I think, if there۪s pressure than you think of things too much, or you analyse them too much. I think when you are doing them it۪s a great pressure burster. We didn۪t bring the term pressure upon ourselves.
How did you decide on Rajasthan as the backdrop of the film?
That was the requirement of the screenplay. We based the contemporary story in Rajasthan, and it fitted in with the milieu, about these three characters as they play out in today۪s time. There۪s the modern day Sahiba, there۪s the modern day Mirza and the modern day Sahiba۪s fianc̩. So it plays out between the three, and there۪s a fourth girl who plays a gypsy girl, her name is Anjali. So there are four newcomers actually.
Your films have had quite a big impact every time on audiences and the industry. Do you get a sense of that impact when you are making the film?
Honestly, not really. If you believe in something and you really believe in it, and you desperately want everyone else to believe in what you believe in, then that is a bigger sentiment than the kind of impact it will have outside that. It۪s just that I۪m saying something and I want you to hear it. So I can say that that is possible, to my ability.
How did you arrive on the title of the film as ‘Mirzya’ especially as the story is traditionally known as Mirza Sahiba۪?
For the longest time Mirza Sahiba۪ was the working title, and one day I was sitting across from Gulzar, and we were doing the final bits of crossing the T۪s and dotting the I۪s, and I said we۪ve written a modern day love story and we are calling it Mirza Sahiba۪? He said Yah, let۪s just call it Mirzya۪. It is some kind of umbilical cord to the legend and at the same time it۪s just turning it around. And Gulzar being Gulzar he comes up with these things naturally.
BizAsia thanks Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for taking the time to talk to us.
‘Mirzya’ is slated for release on 16th October and the official trailer will be unveiled at the forthcoming IIFAs in Madrid later this month.