Mumbai: Producer and former chairperson of the censor board, Pahlaj Nihalani, is suddenly in the news again, thanks to the ever-newsy Kangana Ranaut, who lashed out at Nihalani, saying, “Pahlaj Nihalani had offered me a film called I Love You, Boss. They had organised a photo shoot where they gave me a robe to wear and no undergarments. So, all I had was a satin robe for a show-girl pose, from which I had to stick my leg out while walking out of the darkness. I was supposed to play a young girl lusting after her middle-aged boss. So it was a soft-porn kind of character. And I had this epiphany that I cannot do this. I felt like this is exactly what my parents were talking about. I actually went through the photo shoot, but then I disappeared. I changed my number.”
Nihalani has a very different story to tell. “First of all, I wasn’t even there when the photo-shoot happened. Kangana had gone for the shoot with her then secretary Rakesh Nath, who also looked after Madhuri Dixit. So what she had to wear for the photo-shoot or what she did not wear was not my look-out. Secondly, does Kangana even remember how desperately she needed this role in my film which she is now calling pornography, and how much she requested me to cast her? Kangana had gone around the entire film industry with Aditya Pancholi, knocking on every producer’s door for work. But it wasn’t happening. Nobody was signing her. Only I ventured to sign her, although I was advised against it.”
Nihalani wonders how the film has suddenly come back into Kangana’s consciousness after all these years. “For 10 years, she has acknowledged Anurag Basu as her mentor and discoverer. She seemed to have completely forgotten that long before Anurag Basu ever cast her, I had roped her in to act in I Love You, Boss. And she seemed most happy about it. The story was about a young girl and her crush for her boss. I approached Amitabh Bachchanji for the boss’ part. When he turned down the role, I approached Rishi Kapoor with the script. However, he couldn’t do the film either so I finally asked my dear friend Shatrughan Sinha and he agreed.”
This was when Kangana dropped the first hot brick on the project.
Recalls Nihalani, “Kangana said that she did not want to work with Shatruji. She told me that Zarina Wahabji had advised her not to. She didn’t take Aditya Pancholi’s name. She pinned it on his wife instead. I was livid. Was Kangana in a position to turn down a film with a legend like Shatrughan Sinha? That was the end of the project.”
She apparently broke her contract with Nihalani. “Kangana was in a contract for three films with me. But when she asked me if she could do Anurag’s film, I released her from the contract. Does she ever talk about this? Or has she ever mentioned about the time when she was in trouble for providing the wrong Mumbai address on her passport when she had to fly out to shoot for Ritesh Sidhwani’s film? Misinformation on the passport is a serious criminal act. I ran from pillar to post to bail her out of trouble. And this is how she repays me? By accusing me of exploiting her? Actors like Kangana Ranaut bring a bad name to all the struggling actors, who are given an opportunity by producers like us. With success, the struggle is forgotten and so are those who might have helped,” concluded the infuriated producer....