Kangana Ranaut‘s Simran‘s credit controversy made the film one of the most controversial films of the year. The trailer and songs of the film, all look wonderful and many are of the opinion that the film will be a blockbuster, alike Kangana’s Queen (2013). But the creative disagreements, clashes and amendments that have gone behind the film’s story, seems worthy of a dedicated film in itself. This was perhaps the first time that the writer, director, and actor, are all caught up in a fiery clash of approach. According to reports in Huffpost, the following is how it all fell apart:
Text messages between the three suggest that all was well in August 2016, before the team took off to Atlanta, Georgia to begin the shoot. Apurva Asrani‘s draft left Hansal Mehta pleased, and he even conveyed that to the writer. According to Asrani, Kangana had given “suggestions” that he found “excellent,” and willingly incorporated them in the script.
However, there were little details like the character being Gujju and a divorcee, ideas which Kangana claimed to be hers, and later Asrani cleared were his. So right before they left for Atlanta, Asrani, who came to know that Mehta is editing the script, was troubled as to what which version of the script is going to be executed. Asrani told Mehta: “I am very concerned that you may be on a plane to shoot a script that I don’t recognize. Please understand what this is doing to me.” Mehta responded to it saying that his fears were “unfounded” and that he’ll clarify everything in time. He said he was caught up in ‘too many last-minute crisis.’
Mehta proceeded to write about minor changes that Ranaut and he had discussed. After October 2016, Asrani mentioned that there was little to no communication between him and Mehta. Then followed by this, Kangana and Mehta seemed to have had serious clashes within days of the shooting. However, they didn’t let this go beyond the sets, upholding a composed exterior.
Before coming on board, Kangana was apparently promised complete freedom to get involved in the creative process, something that Mehta felt she abused on the sets. On the sets in Atlanta, Kangana became too liberal with her power, which Mehta didn’t like. He stopped coming to the sets altogether, and Kangana would go ahead directing the film. Messages accessed by Huffpost suggest Kangana was annoyed of this “drama” and the “coward” of a director that she had.
On March 8, Kangana wrote to Apurva: “I am done with a clueless and a spineless director. I am done with his selfish team. Skilled director left the film sighting gender bias issues, according to him he can’t handle a woman calling the shots, he was always told he’ll have to collaborate, on the other hand he encouraged me calling himself a feminist, then what happened to a feminist director?”
This behaviour didn’t go down well with Kangana as she felt Mehta was comfortable with this situation, having earlier claimed he is a feminist. Ranaut further told Asrani that if Mehta had a ‘name to save’ he wouldn’t have abandoned his crew on a Rs 30 cr. set. “Truth is money came on my name. I proudly took the charge and directed the film with my head injury. Didn’t say let’s go back because the director has ran away,” she wrote allegedly. The above exchange was in context of the writing credits that the two were fighting over. “If a woman can singlehandedly take charge of a film where a coward director has ran away and his AD has refused to work with me, I don’t need to ask for my credit from someone like you,” Ranaut said.
Kangana also wrote that she came on-board on the condition that she’ll involved in ‘every single detail’ as she is not here to make films for ’10 people’ and that she has to justify the ’30 cr. budget’. Asrani countered this by saying, “If we wanted to make that film we would have chosen a story like Aligarh or Shahid. I wrote an entertainer, with no tragic elements.”
It remains unclear how they finished the film, given such disagreements all over the place. They probably just thought of getting it out of the way by putting the differences aside. However, Asrani claims Mehta simply ‘submitted’ to Ranaut’s “whims and fancies” as he didn’t have a choice and the fact that he was mounting a Rs 30 cr. film for the first time already had him anxious.
It was by December when Asrani was given the film for editing. Going through it, Asrani says that he was happy with the screenplay as it remained pretty much the same. “After they returned from the shoot, I saw the rushes. I saw the additions and subtractions within scenes. But the screenplay was pretty much the same,” Asrani told HuffPost.
By now, Kangana and Mehta had stopped talking to each other entirely. Ranaut only sought to take a co-writer’s credit she thought she deserved. According to Asrani, Mehta returned from the US looking like a “defeated man”. Asrani even claimed that Kangana, along with her producer friend Shailendra Singh offered him “extra money” for her co-writer credit, however Asrani refused. But Asrani refused.
Asrani then revealed that Kangana wouldn’t shoot for the Mumbai sequence until the credit issues are sorted. They finally settled on an “additional story” credit for Kangana. A new person was brought in. Kangana confirmed this in the HuffPost interview, saying she wanted Asrani ‘out.’
Asrani told Huffpost: “I have fought to retain my credit because it’s my story. What Ranaut did, irrespective of her claims, is what all good artists do. She added value to what I had already written. But the way she’s played this narrative of dismissing my work and questioning my credibility as a writer is nothing short of character assassination. It has hurt me and my reputation. All I want to say is that people shouldn’t take her at face value — they should question her. She shouldn’t just be treated as a beacon of feminism. There is a lot of duplicity, lot of lies, lots of false allegations. I want people to see her for what she is, not what she projects herself to be,”
About Mehta, Asrani says: “I can’t say how I’m feeling. It’s a mix of hurt, love and understanding. I had thought he’d have my back when I stood upto her. Wish he had stood upto the bully too. Maybe I will understand better when I’m in his shoes, I don’t know. But we have finally moved on to newer partnerships and I think that is healthy. I wish him the best.”
And about the film? “I sincerely hope it does well.”
Kangana and Hansal, but they declined to comment.