Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut is clearly in the middle of what could be the biggest storm of her professional life. Writer-editor Apurva Asrani has accused her of discrediting his work by claiming it to be her own. Hours after another writer, claiming to have written Hansal Mehta’s national-award-winning film, Shahid, accused Apurva of the same, Kangana has now opened up on the issue.
In an interview to Huffington Post, Kangana said, “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 added.
Elaborating on her involvement with Asrani’s script, the actor said, “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... Later, 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.”
Simran producer Shailesh Singh on Thursday also criticised writer Apurva Asrani for dragging the film through a controversy over writing credits. “I have worked with Apurva on two of his biggest films—Shahid and Aligarh. Apurva has a legal document in his possession signed by all parties—Kangana, Hansal, Mehta (director), the producers and himself wherein he agrees to the credits given by us.”
In the film’s first poster, Kangana was credited as ‘additional story and dialogue writer’ with her name appearing before Apurva’s as ‘story, screenplay and dialogue writer’ but Shailesh called it a ‘printing error’ that would be rectified.
“I have conveyed this to Apurva. We could have chatted in person before he took the issue to social media. He seems to be doing this for publicity. If this is about him versus Kangana, I want to clarify that to please an actress, I’d have paid her more. Why be unfair to him?” he said.
Shailesh said he will put the script online once the film releases on September 15. “Once the film hits screens, we will release the script online for the world to judge.”
Meanwhile, a writer Sameer Gautam has claimed that he wrote Shahid but Apurva Asrani took the entire credit. In a long Facebook post, Sameer wrote, “Let me start by saying that I am the writer of Shahid that no one in the industry knows about except my team and my director. You all know of Apurva Asrani as the writer of Shahid. Am I right? From the first day of my research where I did not even have Shahid Azmi’s address to the final shooting script and till the end of production, after which I also worked on the subtitles for the film’s festival cut.”
When asked about the allegation, Apurva told HT, “I had tried to defend my credit and in return, there has been so much mud-slinging based on untruth. There is an attempt to derail the real story here, and the questions I have raised about the producers’ ethics still haven’t been answered. I will refute each point, each allegation, but once the right thing is done by me on Simran.”
Filmmaker Hansal Mehta is yet to respond to the issue.
(With PTI inputs)