Often filmmakers usually make films in one kind of genre. Or at the most, they would switch between genres in either commercial or niche cinema. Ananth Narayan Mahadevan is an exception. He has made erotic thrillers and romcoms on one hand and also thought-provoking and festival-friendly movies.
EXCLUSIVE: Ananth Narayan Mahadevan reveals that he was SHOCKED when Naseeruddin Shah told him that he enjoyed Himesh Reshammiya’s The Xpose: “I joked, ‘Sir, subah se koi mila nahin kya?’. But he was serious”
Ananth Narayan Mahadevan talked about it during an exclusive interaction with Bollywood Hungama. He said, “I was doing a lot of television wherein I worked with some of the big stars. I introduced Rati Agnihotri on television with Kabhi To Milenge. I worked with Satish Shah, R Madhavan, Farooq Sheikh, etc. That’s when Viveck Vaswani offered me Dil Vil Pyaar Vyaar (2002) and said that it would be a film with published music. I found it fascinating as it had three love stories – boy meets girl, boy loses girl and boy regains girl. We sat down with the cameraman and had three colour pallets – the boy meets girl track had spring colours, the boy loses girl had a grey and black colour scheme and the boy regains girl had earth colours. I enjoyed the experience. Dil Maange More (2004) was a very irreverent date film. It was also enjoyable as it said that you don’t always end up marrying your first love.”
He continued, “Then Sujit Sen, who wrote Saaransh (1984), came up with the idea of Aksar (2006). The producers wanted an erotic thriller. It had this bizarre idea of a man saying ‘Help me divorce my wife’! I shouldn’t have succumbed to the temptation. Aksar led to Aksar 2 (2017), Aggar (2007), Victoria No 203 (2007) and The Xpose (2014). Victoria No 203 was a huge learning experience for me. I’ll never attempt a remake again.”
The Xpose stands out as the Himesh Reshammiya-starrer became a talking point. Ananth Narayan Mahadevan stated, “The premise of The Xpose was fascinating. It was about the stars. The image of the stars was bigger than themselves. They believed in it and they went haywire. It wasn't a serious approach towards cinema.”
He added, “Today, I won’t say these films were a blot in my filmography. Also, I made only 7 of such films. But I made 13 films I believe in - Mee Sindhutai Sapkal (2010), Red Alert (2010), Staying Alive (2010), Gour Hari Dastaan (2015), Rough Book (2016), Doctor Rakhmabai (2016), Mai Ghat (2019), Bittersweet (2020), Life's Good (2022), Aata Vel Zaali, The Storyteller, The Confession and Phule.
When said that his commercial films were fun and that Aksar was enjoyable, he remarked, “That is a tragedy! One day, Naseeruddin Shah told me at a book release event, ‘Ananth, I enjoyed the film’. Gour Hari Dastaan had not released then. So, I wondered how he saw it. I asked him. He told me, ‘I am talking about the Himesh Reshammiya film’! I joked, ‘Sir, subah se koi mila nahin kya?’. But he was serious. He opened up that he felt that The Xpose was stylish, colourful, dynamic etc.”
Ananth Narayan Mahadevan also revealed, “Himesh Reshammiya then came up with another script, of Teraa Surroor (2016). I told him, ‘Nahin, ab bahut ho gaya’. But I introduced my friend Shawn Arranha and he directed it. Then in the poster, I see Naseeruddin Shah. He actually fell for it (smiles)! In fact, I praised Himesh for the way he marketed The Xpose. I told him, ‘No film of mine has been marketed as well as The Xpose’. I am amused when people come and say, ‘Can you make another The Xpose?’.”
Was he satisfied with The Xpose? Ananth answered, “All I can say is that this is the genre of cinema I have left behind. I will never make formula films ever again. I don’t have a problem with the word ‘mainstream cinema’. I want every film to be mainstream. Our audience is not educated enough or cinema-literate to realize that even Gour Hari Dastaan is mainstream. It is dubbed as ‘parallel cinema’. I hit back saying ‘The kind of cinema you guys make is parallel cinema. This is cinema’.”
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