Nostalgia with Aanand Rai: “My room was full of Sunil Gavaskar’s posters”

Published on Nov 12, 2022 12:06 AM IST

The director and producer talks about completing his computer engineering before his Bollywood debut, living in a close-knit middle-class family, and being happy and calm

Aanand Rai at 22 (left) and at 51 (right)
Aanand Rai at 22 (left) and at 51 (right)
ByDinesh Raheja

What were your career options?

I was completing my Computer Engineering from Nanded, Maharashtra, but didn’t want to do a job. Storytelling was beckoning me. My brother Ravi Rai was already assisting Mahesh Bhatt saab in Mumbai. So, I assisted my brother in TV shows. Then, we started our own production house. Later, I shifted to films. If I had got the opportunity of telling good stories on TV, I wouldn’t have moved to directing films in the Raanjhanaa or Tanu Weds Manu space.

Aanand directed Kangana in Tanu Weds Manu, and its sequel
Aanand directed Kangana in Tanu Weds Manu, and its sequel

What was your bank balance?

I had an account with Bombay Mercantile Bank. My bank balance was 8,000-9,000. It never touched five figures.

At a photoshoot in a shirt borrowed from a college friend
At a photoshoot in a shirt borrowed from a college friend

Were you staying with your family?

We were a close-knit middle-class family. My dad, Leela Ram Raisinghani, was a teacher. He was fond of writing, painting and music. My mother, Sushila Raisinghani, was a Fine Arts teacher in a girls’ school in Delhi. I was named Anand because of the Hrishikesh Mukherji classic that was released in the year of my birth.

With his mother, in Delhi, when he would listen to her sing
With his mother, in Delhi, when he would listen to her sing

What was your frame of mind?

Happy and calm. I had no self doubt. My belief is: If I’m sleeping peacefully at night, I am a successful man.

With Shah Rukh, who was the hero in Aanand’s film, Zero
With Shah Rukh, who was the hero in Aanand’s film, Zero

What was your relationship status?

I was in love with a girl. Today, she’s my wife, Yogeeta Rai, and we have a daughter.

Aanand (right) shirt with his best friend, Nitin Mehta
Aanand (right) shirt with his best friend, Nitin Mehta

Your most prized possession?

My bicycle on which I used to go to college after picking up breakfast—two bananas and a half-litre milk packet with Rooh Afza.

Aanand with his parents when he was in his 20s
Aanand with his parents when he was in his 20s

Who were your idols?

My room was full of Sunil Gavaskar’s posters. But I have never seen him hit a century on TV. Once he would score 90, I would start praying at the mandir in my house.

Aanand (in green shirt) in a play he directed and acted in during his engineering days
Aanand (in green shirt) in a play he directed and acted in during his engineering days

From HT Brunch, November 12, 2022

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