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  5. Gulzar made me promise only Meghna would direct 'Raazi': 'Calling Sehmat' author Harinder Sikka

Gulzar made me promise only Meghna would direct 'Raazi': 'Calling Sehmat' author Harinder Sikka

Harinder said that Meghna would direct the Alia Bhatt-Vicky Kaushal starrer was one of the "three conditions" in the film contract that he signed with the production house.

PTI PTI
New Delhi Published on: December 23, 2019 15:51 IST
meghna gulzar raazi

Raazi directed by Meghna Gulzar was based on Harinder Sikka's book, "Calling Sehmat"

It was on veteran lyricist Gulzar's insistence that author Harinder Singh Sikka, whose "Calling Sehmat" got adapted into the film "Raazi", agreed to have Meghna Gulzar as the director of the 2018 spy thriller. According to Sikka, that Meghna would direct the Alia Bhatt-Vicky Kaushal starrer was one of the "three conditions" in the film contract that he signed with the production house.

"Raazi" is the real life story of a young Kashmiri girl who agreed to marry a Pakistani army officer in order to spy for India.

"Gulzar wanted work for his daughter. I made it (Meghna as the director) as part of my contract because he took a promise from me that whoever produces the movie, the director would only be Meghna."Now, all of this is in the contract. Gulzar can't say that it was not the case or anything like that," Sikka, who recently came out with his new book, "Vichhoda", told PTI.

The other two clauses in the contract were -- "only Alia Bhatt would play the role of protagonist", and "full and final payment, no installments".

Though the film did overwhelming business at the box office and got rave reviews from the critics too, Sikka was not happy with how the production turned out.

"Had they followed the book to the tee (sic), the movie would have become a folklore," asserted Sikka, a former naval officer. His major disagreement was with the climax of the movie, which he said had cost the film a National Award. "Sehmat, when she returned to India, was given a red carpet welcome at the airport, but when she saw the tri-colour she stepped aside, and saluted the tri-colour. The same was there in the book also.

"But in the movie they showed that she came back all depressed, as if she had done a blunder. I asked them not to change that, but they said, 'you don't know the industry, we do'. Now, in my opinion that was the reason the film did not get a single National Award," he said.

Once bitten twice shy, Sikka said he had learnt his lesson, and would be wary in future projects.

"Your ideas need to be delivered only by you. No one else will deliver it for you. 'Raazi' could have been a 'Mother India' kind of thing, had they (filmmakers) not thought of making it too commercial," Sikka, also the producer of award-winning movie "Nanak Shah Fakir", said.

His new book "Vichhoda" (Separation), which also features a strong female protagonist, is the real story of Bibi Amrit Kaur who reunites with her sons six decades after she was forced to leave Pakistan in 1950 because of the Nehru-Liaquat pact.

Also known as the Delhi Pact, the bilateral agreement was signed between India and Pakistan in order to provide a framework for the treatment of minorities in the two countries."I got to know about this story when I was researching for 'Calling Sehmat' in Pakistan. I have come across many such stories of Partition. Besides grit and immense courage, this is a story of faith. It conveys the message that if you have faith, your prayers shall be answered.

"Also, through the stories of these strong women, I want to make my country and its people realise the true capability of women," he added. "Vichhoda" too, will soon be adapted into a movie.

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