Kiran Rao says 12th Fail's success makes her 'greedy' for Laapataa Ladies: 'Box office will tell you if...' | Exclusive

Kiran Rao talks about her upcoming film Laapataa Ladies and how the box office success of 12th Fail has made her hopeful about her film's prospects.

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Kiran Rao is returning to direction with Laapataa Ladies

Kiran Rao is making a return to the director’s chair with Laapataa Ladies, her first directorial venture in 13 years. It has been a long time in the making and Kiran admits to feeling ‘frustration’ in the interim period. In a candid, freewheeling chat with DNA ahead of the film’s release, Kiran touches upon what made her wait over a decade, setting the film in a fictitious state, and her commercial aspirations.

Kiran has only directed one film prior to this – Dhobi Ghat, which released in 2010. Ask her about the period between these two films and she promptly says, “The interim was frustrating. I was working very hard to make my own work, write, and I had a lot of stories that I am pursuing now too. But writing is a very lonely process and I never found the right kind of co-writer or support. It was very frustrating and I was looking for something I could sink my teeth into and run with. I got lucky with this one because Aamir was the judge in this scriptwriting competition where this script was submitted.”

Her ex-husband and co-producer Aamir Khan saw a script called Two Brides at a competition and the two hired Sneha Desai and Divyanidhi Sharma to rework the script into Laapataa Ladies. The film is set in Nirmal Pradesh, a fictitious state where the characters speak an amalgamation of Hindi, Khadi Boli, Bhojpuri, and Brajbhasha. Talking about the decision to choose a fictitious setting for the story, the filmmaker says, “We just felt that the second you say Bihar, UP, or Maharashtra, it becomes the story of a particular culture or region, which this is not. It’s a more general take on what women go through in life. We didn’t want to make it broader. This also gave us the liberty to create our own rule that this happens in our Nirmal Pradesh. Nobody can argue with what happens in our fictitious state. We are not bad mouthing anyone. It also helps you evade the people who could take offence to just about anything.”

Laapataa Ladies stars three youngsters, all virtually newcomers, in lead roles in a film for the first time. Ravi Kishan and Chhaya Kadam are the only ‘big names’ in the cast. Naturally, it is being termed as a ‘content film’ with little commercial pressures. But it comes out just two months after the stupendous success of 12th Fail and Kiran admits it has given her hope. “It feels to me like the sky is the limit now,” she says, adding, “When you think of a film like 12th Fail, it makes you realise that for thousands of years, humans have sat around the fire, watching paintings on the walls of caves or telli each other stories. That instinct hasn’t changed. It’s so heartening to see something like 12th Fail which is a story well told. It doesn’t matter who is in it or who made it because the idea is that it is a good story. Yes, it makes me greedy, honestly. It’s an incredible inspiration for all us who are making films with non-starcast or with unusual storylines.”

While producers and directors often play down the significance of box office, Kiran does not. “It is in some way a metric of how much people have liked the film,” she argues, before clarifying, “It is, sometimes, a result of not having reached your audience with information. Maybe people don’t know, which is a problem in marketing when you don’t have a big film. But box office will tell you if people like the film.”

Laapataa Ladies stars Sparsh Srivastava, Pratibha Ranta, and Nitanshi Goel in the lead roles. After being feted at the Toronto International Film Festival last year, the film is getting a theatrical release in India on March 1.

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