It is common for Bollywood films to be banned in Pakistan. In the past, films such as Phantom (2015), Baby (2015) and Dishoom have not been allowed to release in the country. Aanand L Rai’s production Happy Bhag Jayegi, starring Abhay Deol, Jimmy Sheirgill and Diana Penty, joined the list recently. Talking about the ban, Aanand says he feels “sad for the people of Pakistan”. “They have been deprived of so many things because of political pressures,” he says, adding,
“I feel proud to be a part of a country, where I have the freedom to express myself.” So, would it be fair to say that India is more accepting of Pakistani talent? “Yes, definitely,” says Aanand. He adds that people in the Hindi entertainment industry “understand creativity better”. “But I don’t think we can compare the two countries,” he says.
After having been part of successful ventures such as Raanjhanaa (2013) and Tanu Weds Manu Returns (2015), Aanand says he “understands” his ordinariness and the fact that he has “become a director with some difficulty”. “But I love telling stories. I enjoy the process, and I don’t want to complicate film-making. I want to keep it simple, and I want to be known as a teller of small stories,” he says.
Aanand has roped in superstar Shah Rukh Khan for his next, in which the actor will be seen playing a dwarf. Ask Aanand if he feels most directors end up casting the Khans in stereotypical roles, and he says, “No, the Khans have done varied roles throughout their career. They tapped into their talent. They are intelligent and understand the process of film-making. It’s the audience that demands that SRK be shown in a romantic role or Salman be seen in an action-oriented one.”