Mumbai, Jul 30 (PTI) He is known for bringing strong female characters and small town stories on celluloid in an entertaining way, and director Aanand L Rai says his sole aim is to continue encouraging content-driven cinema. Also Read - Secularism Biggest Threat to India’s Tradition Getting Recognition on Global Stage: Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath

Rai started his career with “Strangers” and “Thodi Life Thoda Magic” but both the films were unable to impress the audience. Also Read - UP Shocker: 13-year-old Boy Sexually Assaulted by 2 Minors in Aligarh, Given Rs 20 to Stay Mum

It was the success of his 2011 Kangana Ranaut-starrer “Tanu Weds Manu” that helped Rai establish a foothold in the industry. He then went to direct two superhit films “Raanjhanaa” and “Tanu Weds Manu Returns”. Also Read - UP Gram Panchayat Election 2021: Last Few Days Left to Raise Objection, Final Reservation List of Seats to be Released on THIS Date

He even attained success as a producer with “Nil Battey Sannata” and “Happy Bhaag Jayegi” and is currently backing “Shubh Mangal Savdhan”, featuring Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar.

“I am at a place now where I can encourage filmmaking that changes the perception of family films, from plain conservative to thought-provoking, entertaining and worthy of dinner table discussions and therefore, I am happy to present films like ‘Shubh Mangal…’,” Rai told PTI in an exclusive interview here.

Apart from “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”, Rai also has other interesting slate of films in his kitty, such as, Rajkummar Rao-starrer “Newton”, “Happy Bhaag Jayegi” sequel and Anurag Kashyap’s directorial “Mukkabaaz”, about a boxer from Uttar Pradesh who falls in love with a Brahmin girl.

“There’s also a constant endeavour to associate with content which resonates with the above sentiment, and you’ll see that in films like ‘Newton’ and ‘Mukkabaaz’. I believe stories come from experiences, either your own or of the ones you can relate to.

“I give stories the prime importance, be it the ones I am directing or producing. Each story comes with its own scale of storytelling and that’s why films like ‘Nil Battey Sannata’, ‘Newton’ or ‘Mukkabaaz’ make me very proud. I don’t want to be defined by any particular space other than that of good and original storytelling,” Rai says.

The 46-year-old director-producer believes cinema is a reflection of society – which is ever changing and growing.

“As a filmmaker, I consider it my privilege to have a medium of expression that can reach so many people with my thoughts and if presented well, I know that people will embrace it too.”

Recently, the makers unveiled the teaser of “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan”. The film, directed by R S Prasanna, is set to release on September 1.

Talking about the film, Rai says, “It’s an out and out entertainer. I have always been excited about films that blend in unique concepts and characters against the backdrop of a mundane Indian household. It helps bring out the characters’ nuances and make them stand out, which we don’t usually notice in daily life.

“I’m introducing new characters with this film. The woman of today is not the same as four years ago and we should pay attention and respect that. The female protagonist, Sugandha (Bhumi) is as distinct as Tanu and Datto were from each other in ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’,” he says.

Rai is all praise for Ayushmann and Bhumi, with whom he’s collaborating for the first time.

“Ayushmann is a brilliant actor, who can confidently shine in the simplest of characters and retain the simplicity which is a great quality for an actor. That’s why he becomes an obvious choice for a lot of roles.

“And I will say the same about Bhumi, an actor selflessly available to a story. It was great working with them,” he says.

Rai is currently working on one of his highly-anticipated films – his next directorial project with Shah Rukh Khan.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.