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RS Prasanna tells us about the organ that really matters - the one above your belt.

By Armin Sethi Tuesday, Sep 12, 2017 01:05: PM

He is the director of one of the best films of 2017, featuring the talented Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar. But Shubh Mangal Savdhan is much more than an erectile dysfunction conversation. It is a conversation about the true meaning of relationships and love. And that’s what RS Prasanna is all about. Here’s my conversation with the courageous filmmaker:

I want to start off by talking about the relationship you share with Aanand L. Rai and your foray into Hindi cinema. How did that relationship inspire you or help you in your transition into Hindi cinema?

Yes, I think many times you feel a sense of disillusionment when you go and meet a person in real life. That there is the person that you have only known through his work on screen – so that was Mr. Rai for me before I met him. I’ve always loved his movies and through his movies, I felt a connect with him. Like the stories he liked to tell really appealed to me. So when I met him three years ago, I felt an even deeper connect and I felt that the real Aanand L. Rai was as pure and as sweet as the movies that he makes, as honest as the movies he makes. I saw him as a mentor and the only credit I can really take through this whole thing is that I decided to go with him.  I knew instinctively that he seems to understand me and the kinds of films that I want to make in the future as well – so I found a mentor in him.

The kinds of films he makes are relevant. Even this film, Shubh Mangal Saavdhan, it is different as it broaches a subject, much like Vicky Donor, that has never been talked about in Hindi cinema but it seems to be quite relevant and friendly in the way it was showcased. Can you tell me a bit about your approach in tackling the subject and making sure you kept audience sensibilities in mind in the presentation of the topic?

See, I think I was more courageous in the Tamil version because when I was making the Tamil version, I did not have Aanand L. Rai next to me or an Ayushmann. I had my team of actors who believed in the script and made a film from the heart. What happens is that when you are a virgin right, the first film is you discovering the process, such as love-making for the first time. There is a certain purity in that process. I was just sitting and writing, thinking that if four of my friends loved this film, I would be more than happy.

The audiences loved it as well despite the fact that this was a topic that would shock a lot of people. There was a lot of humour, love, and entertainment in it. That is what Mr. Rai loved too. So with the Bollywood version, I would not do anything that wouldn’t be true to the film. I would not stretch the believability of the film, if it is not possible. People loved the trailer and the film. There is a lot of reality, down-to-earth qualities to it. That is what we kept in mind.

You talked about the story being humourous. But you made a distinction between a story being humourous and a story being a comedy. What is the distinction in your mind?

I think humour comes from situations, which is very real, which is almost semi-tragic. At the end of the day, humour and comedy, people have to laugh. But if you are trying to do a slapstick, that is a comedy. Humour is something that is very close to what happens every day around you. When a person slips and falls, that is comedy. Humour is something that – poignant, very real, and you laugh at it. This film is humourous, but it is not a comedy.



The actors you have in the film, Ayushmann and Bhumi, come from taking big risks for their starts in Hindi cinema. What was the thought process you had when envisioning these two in your film?

They were good actors to begin with, and they are quite loveable as a pair, so that was also bearing in our minds. I think that finally, before going to an actor, for me, it makes sense that I can be buddies with them. They have to come on board with a lot of conviction. I think the very fact that he has done a Vicky Donor and she has done a Dum Laga Ke Haisha right at the beginning of their careers, probably they saw that I’m dealing with erectile dysfunction as my first film. So there was a sense of comradery. We are three people who get along well, get each other, and there is mutual respect. At the end of the day, such films can only come from the heart. And the three of us have that heart.



Why do you think such a film is relevant?

Erectile dysfunction is something that various men go through at various points in their lives. But we attach importance to different things to give make ourselves feel more like a man or more like a woman. Like I’ll tell you, I just delivered a baby with my wife, so everybody wants to know if it is a normal delivery or a C-section. Why do people want to know that? Like are you a lesser woman if you go through a C-section – is that the mentality? Like why do you want to know that?

Same thing with men, ya. Normally, men are chest-pumping about how many women they have slept with or how many minutes they can go. I think it is bizarre, the level that we use our gender roles and try to create this false image/bravado about machoism. Machoism is not about the organ below your belt but it is about the organ above your belt, which is your heart. That is what we are trying to say.

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