Amitabh Bachchan is once again an ‘angry young man’ in Chehre: Anand Pandit – Times of India

Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi are gearing up to set the cash registers ringing at the box office, with the release of their film ‘Chehre‘ on Friday, August 27. The crime-thriller is only the second big-ticket Bollywood film to line up for a theatrical release, following the reopening of cinema halls post the second wave of the coronavirus outbreak. ETimes caught up with the film’s producer, Anand Pandit who got down to discussing the business of Bollywood, spilled secrets from the sets, addressed the controversy around his actress Rhea Chakraborty, and more. Excerpts:

After multiple delays, your film is finally ready for release…

It feels so good. We are all really overwhelmed! We were hopeful that theatres would open this month and that people, after taking their vaccines, would be more open to going out and getting the cinema experience.

You have often spoken so fondly of Mr Bachchan and your equation with him. Tell us what it was like working with him and his reaction to this role?

Mr Bachchan is a thorough professional. He is very choosy about his scripts but he wanted to do this film, so from my side, it took a little less effort in convincing him. He had also chosen the director, Mr Rumi Jafry, so on that matter, too, I didn’t have to make any effort. He was very excited about this film; the subject is something that hasn’t been explored much. It looks like a British film.

What is the most interesting aspect about Mr Bachachan that we don’t get to hear or see too often?

Mr Bachchan has played a lawyer many times in the past, but here, I will take the liberty to say that he is once again like an ‘angry young man’ while playing a retired prosecutor. He has done a fantastic job and you will all love it.

Why did you want a big-screen release for ‘Chehre’ and weren’t so persistent about waiting for the big screen for Abhishek Bachchan‘s ‘The Big Bull’ that was released on OTT?

As far as ‘Chehre’ is concerned, we wanted it to be experienced on the silver screen. Keeping that in mind, we cast our actors, set our budget, and decided on locations. We had a large set in Mumbai and for the first time, a Hindi movie was filmed in Slovakia, in sub-zero temperatures. This is a completely different film, and so I wanted the audience to experience it all and watch Mr Bachchan, Emraan Hashmi and the rest of the cast on the big screen. Big Bull, on the other hand, was a joint production with Mr Ajay Devgn. That was more of a content-driven film, so Ajay suggested we experiment with OTT Fortunately, we got an excellent response, and for six weeks we were on the top trends.

‘The Big Bull’ had fetched a great response, as did several Hollywood films on OTT. But what is it about a theatrical release that OTT will never be able to match up to?

I feel that theatrical releases and OTT releases are two separate businesses now. People go to theatres to experience the film, which you can’t achieve on your phone or computer or television screens. OTT is for more edgy content, but when it comes to experiencing the film, you have to go to the theatres.

Recently there were reports about Bengali film ‘Anusandhan’ bearing resemblance to ‘Chehre’. How does similar content pose a challenge?

I have no idea about that film but these kinds of things happen. In the love story genre, people make similar films and you can’t stop them.

What is it like backing a film that gets mired in controversy, especially when it involves a member of the cast?

I didn’t see any controversy as far as my film is concerned. My cast signed their agreements, they did a fantastic job, and everybody was paid. The controversy they had might be in their personal life, but as far as ‘Chehre’ is concerned, there was nothing.

Is there any particular reason why team Chehre didn’t come out in support of Rhea Chakraborty? Was there any sort of pressure on the team to react?

Whatever happens in their private lives–whether it’s Rhea or anyone else–it is their job to handle it. I don’t think we have a right to react to that because we are in the business of making films, and it is a wise thing to keep it like that. Those who felt the need to react on it could react. We had conviction in Rhea and do so, even today. She has done a fantastic job in this film and you guys will love to see her on-screen.

Do you think double standards persist in the industry? Kareena Kapoor Khan’s fee to play Sita was subjected to social media trolling, while a male star can quote any fee and it is accepted. What are your thoughts on this?

I think this is a matter of demand and supply. We are in business here, so creativity comes along with commerce. I know there are some actresses who get more than Rs 15 crore and very few actors who are getting that amount. So, it depends on who people want to see, and how much the producers are willing to adjust. Tomorrow, if some lady star becomes the ultimate celebrity in people’s eyes, she can even charge Rs 50 crore or Rs 100 crore and I’d welcome her.

As a producer, what is the business plan behind backing films with Bollywood stars and star kids over new talent?

I have no comments on nepotism. But (Bollywood) is a very competitive field and there are so many producers and big stars whose kids are not doing very well and the audience doesn’t like them on the screen. Yes, at times, it becomes easier. It isn’t just in our field, but even in politics and other industries. If some industrialist is there, his son will take over the business, so, I don’t think it is nepotism. As a producer, if I feel that this is a more recognisable face and can do a good job, then why

Chehre Movie Review

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