Hindi film 'Dil Bole Hadippa' has created history at the 34th Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) by becoming the first-ever full-on Bollywood masala film to have its world premiere in North America's top cinema event.
Directed by debutante filmmaker Anurag Singh, 'Dil Bole Hadippa' produced by childhood pal Adiyta Chopra, the film stars actors Rani Mukherjee and Shahid Kapoor in lead.
"I cannot express how delighted I am," Anurag told PTI in an interview.
"I am aware of the prestige associated with this festival," said the young director.
TIFF has in the past screened Karan Johar's 'Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna' (2006) and Anees Bazmee's 'Singh is Kinng' (2008) but neither was a world premiere because the two films had arrived in Toronto after their worldwide commercial release.
'Dil Bole Hadippa' has had its first public screening at a Gala red carpet event at the Roy Thomson Hall a full five days ahead of its opening.
The lead actress of the film, Rani Mukherjee, who was also in Toronto, attended the premiere before flying back to India for a promotional tour in the run-up to the film's domestic release. (More)
"I had Rani in mind for the role of Veera from day one and wanted to pair her with an actor she hadn't been paired with before. Shahid Kapur's name got pencilled in somewhere along the way," said Anurag.
His roots are in the film industry. His father, K P Singh, produced films like 'Patthar Aur Payal' and 'Warrant' in the 1970s.
"I grew up on film sets,"said the director, who counts Hrithik Roshan among his earliest friends. Anurag began his professional life in his teens as an assistant to Rakesh Roshan on as many as five films.
Besides producing two films of his own, Kundan Shah's 'Hum To Mohabbat Karega' and Vikram Bhatt's 'Zurm', the young man went on to assist Sanjay Gadhvi on the production of 'Dhoom 2'.
"Yash Raj Films is like home to me," he said.
Anurag revealed that cricket is only a backdrop in 'Dil Bole Hadippa' and is completely different from other Bollywood movies with a similar background.
"It is unlike Lagaan, Chak De India or Iqbal. It isn't really about sport. It's a romantic comedy which focuses on the relationship between the hero and the heroine although the game of cricket does play a part in the narrative.
"It's an out-and-out masala film for the whole family. What's special about Hadippa is that it is set entirely in rural Punjab. You won't see a single skyscraper in the film," he added.