After two failures, his turnaround as a filmmaker happened with Tanu Weds Manu but Aanand L Rai was initially told to rope in a bigger star to grab more eyeballs. He made his directional debut with Strangers in 2007 and followed it up with Thodi Life Thoda Magic the next year but both the films failed at the box office.
Rai said that when he was working on Tanu Weds Manu, which featured Kangana Ranaut and R Madhavan, he was advised to make the character of Manu more "macho" to fit in a bigger star. The director is happy that he did not consider the advice.
"A big producer told me if I change the storyline a bit and make Manu a little macho, he can get me a bigger star. I said, 'But that's not the story I am looking at!' After those two failures behind me, it was a great temptation to get a bigger star," Rai said.
"But there was a little bit of confidence in my story and myself. I thought if I change Manu, then the story won't be the one which I want to narrate. If it is not that story, I will be doing the same mistake. My story was asking for the right cast and luckily that paid off," he added.
The 2011 romantic comedy not only changed Kangana's career and cemented Madhavan's position in Bollywood but it also helped Rai's become a popular director in Bollywood.
In retrospect, his previous two attempts at direction don't have an 'Aanand L Rai feel' to them and the director says that is because even he was searching for his voice back then.
"I was also searching for Aanand Rai. (I thought) I was there to prove a point. Then you learn with time that you don't have to prove a point to anybody. As a maker you have to tell a story," he said.
"My initial attempts were purely 'Will I be accepted as a director?' May be that's why I failed. There are failures which are the best teachers," he said.
The 46-year-old director turned producer with Tanu Weds Manu under the banner Colour Yellow Productions which has backed movies like Nil Battey Sannata, Happy Bhag Jayegi.
He is elated with how his last production Shubh Mangal Saavdhan was received by the audience. The film will have its TV premiere on &Pictures on February 24.
Directed by R S Prasanna, the movie featured Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar in lead roles and chronicled the story of a man suffering from erectile dysfunction.
"As a family man of the Indian society, I felt it was the right time to change the gear and understand how a middle-class family is changing. I can show that only through films. I want my films to contribute to a certain thought process. If I can take the bedroom talks between two generations or a husband and wife and bring it to the drawing room, it's great. Talk it out, what is the big deal!" Rai added.
(With PTI Inputs)