Mumbai: In a shocking controversy, Apurva Asrani, who had written Hansal Mehta’s critically acclaimed films like ‘Aligarh’ and ‘Shahid’, said that he felt his work in the director’s film ‘Simran’ was discredited with the lead actress Kangana Ranaut also being credited for 'additional dialogue and story', and her name preceding his in the credits.
Apurva had also alleged that he refused to give in to Mehta's request of agreeing for a co-writer credit along with Kangana, since she was turning a director, and that the director and the producer Shailesh Singh tried to arm-twist him about it.
He claimed that he agreed to the additional writing credit eventually only because he was informed that the film would be stuck in the cans otherwise. He was also particularly offended by Kangana’s statement that she had transformed the script from a thriller to a comedy, which he felt discredited his hard work on the film which included writing nine drafts and much more.
While the producer of the film, Shailesh Singh had called Apurva's lengthy Facebook post a publicity stunt, Hansal Mehta also took to Twitter on Wednesday and warned Apurva not to harm the film by trying to gain publicity and sympathy.
Kangana too, has now responded to the accusations in her trademark outspoken style.
The actress has said that she was never impressed with Apurva’s work right from the beginning and wanted him out of the film. She also said that all he was looking for was just his two-minutes of fame.
About how she came on board the film, the actress told Huffington Post, “When he was in the US, Hansal Mehta called me and mentioned a BBC documentary on a woman who took to a life of crime. He said he wanted to develop it with me in the lead. I agreed, saying let’s work on this together. Apurva was nowhere in the picture. When I asked Hansal who’s writing it, he told me he usually collaborates with his editor, Apurva Asrani, and that’s how he came into the picture. Hansal assured me about his credentials saying he ‘almost’ wrote Shahid and Aligarh and being a fan of these films, I agreed to come on-board.”
The actress was previously credited for additional dialogues in the National award winning film ‘Queen’ and having completed a screenplay-writing course in New York, she definitely possesses a script sense and when she was not impressed with ‘Simran’ script ,she decided to take matters into her own hands.
She said, “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. Of course I did. I told Hansal that we need a team of writers and this guy cannot deliver. Yes, he did write 9 drafts but they became so many drafts because both Hansal and I shot them down.”
Apurva had claimed that Kangana used to jump with joy after his narrations and that he saw the film’s final script to be similar to what had written, with only few additional dialogues by Kangana.
However, the actress refutes his claims, “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, why should I be giving my precious time when I already have other commitments.”
She added, "He saw all the changes that I made and now wants to encash on that by putting his name there. And he’s been doing that in the past! Why don’t you check with the original writer of Shahid. This is not an isolated incident.”
About Apurva’s claims of being ‘arm-twisted’ to agree to a co-writer credit along with Kangana, she said, “We sat with him (Hansal and producer, Shailesh Singh) and signed off the legal paperwork where his credits were in place. He harassed us a lot during this. I was done. All I told my team was I want him out of the film. He was supposed to edit the film. Now he no longer is. He kept telling Hansal and everyone that I don’t admire or respect him. Which is true. I cannot fake my admiration or respect for someone I have neither for. I have never done that. All Apurva is after is his two-minutes of fame. And try to plaster his name on my work. He can try to do that, but he won’t be able to.”
Kangana is particularly offended by Apurva asking Hansal to show some ‘spine’ and speak up on the issue. She said, “I think it’s very unfair to say that about him. More than mine or Apurva’s, it’s Hansal’s film. To say that he couldn’t tell the distinction of what he wanted to make is discrediting one of the best filmmakers of our times. To say that he was so enamoured by my charms and my stardom and get swayed by that is discrediting and underestimating a great filmmaker. I don’t think that ever happened. He has earned the position of where he is and whatever I contributed, the final decision was obviously his and his own.”
We sincerely hope that the issue is resolved before the film hits the theatres on September 15.