Aanand L Rai on Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero, “It Wasn’t a Failure But…”

Filmmaker Aanand L Rai is known to keep experimenting with his method of storytelling instead of following the generic tried and tested formula of Bollywood films. He has collaborated with several Bollywood stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Anushka Sharma, Katrina Kaif, Dhanush, Akshay Kumar and Dhanush. In conversation with IANS, Aanand L Rai shares why he opts for conviction in storytelling as opposed to formula and why a film like ‘Zero’ with one of the biggest superstars of Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan – was actually not a failure but learning for him.

Asked how he plans his casting of bringing superstars on board for his projects and Aanand L Rai told IANS: “Well, firstly, by not looking at them as a superstar but the talented actors that they are…you see the moment I would start thinking about casting from a commercial point of view as in, let’s bring Dhanush from the south (Indian film industry) and Akshay sir from Hindi so that when the film is released, both their fans will gather in the theatre to watch a film, I might compromise on a story.

Aanand L Rai
A Still from Atrangi Re

“It is my good luck that Dhanush and Akshay sir, both are superstars; but before anything else, they are good actors and perfect for the characters they played on-screen. It was the same process for every film that I have done. Perhaps that is why my films are more to do with how interesting and experimental the story is, rather than the box-office success. The business of a film cannot be predicted but what I can offer is an original story. That is all I am trying to do.” success in the film is expected. But that was not really the result with the film ‘Zero’ that featured Shah Rukh, Katrina and Anushka.

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Does the pressure of delivering a successful film increase when superstars are on board?

Aanand L Rai explained, “I want to put my thoughts on the table on this topic. Look, having an expectation from the audience is one thing and how I, as a director of the film is dealing with it, is another. I think if I am not ready to deal with that extra pressure, then I should have not signed up for a huge project like that. “Yes, I was working with one of the biggest superstars of our country, Shah Rukh. Making the film itself was an experience and I am proud of the fact that it was one of the original films, an original story.”

He adds, “Yes, I took the pressure of Khan’s stardom that I shouldn’t have. But ‘Zero’ is not a failure but learning for me. I knew how to take off, I didn’t know how to land!”

Check out the trailer of Aanand L Rai and Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero

Aanand L Rai’s next directorial work is ‘Raksha Bandhan’ starring Akshay Kumar. The shooting of the film has been completed.

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