The female-led film Veere Di Wedding has outdone all expectations by making Rs 52.75 crore in its first week and emerging a hit. As the makers of the film revel in its success, they’re also dodging the criticism being hurled their way. We speak to director Shashanka Ghosh about the roller-coaster of a ride that the film has been.
Reviews kind and unkind
Shashanka is grateful for the positive feedback he has been receiving from people, but there’s no denying that the film has left many foaming at the mouth. "Some of the reviews are very kind. The most vicious ones have been written by former friends and classmates. One of them even put his review up on a school group, and I was like ‘What the hell!’" he says.
He’s quick to dismiss the barrage of "grandmother" tweets regarding the masturbation scene saying "Come on..." but he does admit that actor Swara Bhaskar may have added some fuel to the fire. "She is capable of being inflammatory. Often, when I say ‘Why Swara!’ she replies ‘Kisi toh bolna chahiye’ (Someone has to say it)."
The director believes that everyone is entitled to an opinion – even a troll, and he doesn’t want to shut anyone up. "The truth of the matter is in the box-office numbers. I only feel angry when someone says that the film is shallow. It is anything but shallow. To tell the story of four friends in a manner for a large audience to absorb it — I think we have done a decent job," he says.
On inciting a response
"The film is provocative. We have grown up in a time when contained femininity is celebrated. I am not trying to be a feminist, and neither is Rhea. We are just telling the story of four girls in today’s world. Every woman has felt at some point that validation lies solely in marriage. Badrinath ki Dulhania tackled this problem in a subtle way. We did it ungently," Shashanka says.
"We were never interested in being sensational. Rhea was very clear about that, and so was Ekta. We believed in the film, and we wanted to make it correctly. Nothing was done just for show. Even the CBFC understood our use of certain language," he says.
Though Rhea and Shashanka didn’t always see eye to eye during the making of the film, he was one of the first people to congratulate her on the film’s opening. "I shook her hand and said, Boss, well done. Usually, she gets a lot of criticism from me. But it takes balls to make a film like this," he says.
Casting the Veeres
Getting four actresses to share the limelight equally wasn’t an easy task. "For the longest time, people told Rhea to make the film with just Sonam. Quite a few actresses turned her down when she approached them with a part. Imagine, Rhea comes to you with a film that already stars Sonam, Swara, and Shikha. You would most likely say no because you’d believe that Sonam would be given the first priority," Shashanka says. The one actress who proved to be an exception was Kareena Kapoor Khan. "When she heard the script, she immediately said that she wanted to do the film. I kind of fell in love with her at that moment. I remember telling Rhea how I loved Kareena’s reaction. It was our reward for all the work put into the script," he says.
Directing the female-led film
Talking about his experience in making a female-led commercial film, Shashanka says, "When you do something new, you don’t have the luxury of turning back and looking for reassurance. But it was nice to work on a film in which everyone felt involved. The actresses and the producers loved the story and they wanted to make it."