Pyaar Ka Punchnama director Luv Ranjan gets candid with Sudhish Kamath about the man-woman equation
His film “Pyaar Ka Punchnama” is hailed as a cult film about relationships as seen through the male perspective. It has met with polarised reactions — most men seem to love it and most women, hate it. After garnering critical acclaim, the film's collections have picked up in the second week. The film's director Luv Ranjan talks about the overwhelming response, the brickbats, the bouquets and the satisfaction of making a much-debated debut with six newcomers.
Your film didn't open well, but seems to have picked up.
It's doing really well. It's a hit in Punjab, and doing well even in the smaller cities. Now into its third week, and even with ‘Ready' set to release, we are doing above 60 per cent even on a weekday. There's a huge repeat audience for the film as guys watch it together as a gang.
What was the film's central idea?
To make a comment on modern relationships. Not a serious comment but a tongue-in-cheek take on it. I found relationships very funny; I wanted to show its funny side from a man's perspective.
Some critics have called you a misogynist.
I don't care. There are so many films that show men as cheats. Just like there are nice guys and not-so-nice guys, there are nice women and the not-so-nice. The problem is that, in India films have only shown one side of women. This is probably the first attempt to show women in a certain light, and some people are finding it a little difficult to accept that. What about the portrayal of women in Martin Scorsese's films?Is he a misogynist? There are so many feminist groups that talk about women's rights. But, there's domestic violence against men as well. Nobody talks about it because of the social stigma. I'm glad it's taken seriously and not just viewed as a comedy. I don't want them to agree with me. I am a success if I start a debate. It's not that every story I want to tell is anti-women. My next film is a romantic drama that explores the beauty and complexity of love in modern relationships.
Your film is more Woody Allen than Suneel Darshan who you started off assisting.
I assisted Suneel Darshan in three films — ‘Barsaat', ‘Mere Jeevan Saathi' and ‘Dosti', all hardcore commercial films. Sanjay Bhansali was Vidhu Vinod Chopra's assistant. You only learn the craft from them, the art is all yours. As for Woody, he is able to look at relationships in a cynical but funny way. I like to shoot films my way, even if it's going to take time; you have to be patient. I spent two years writing another film but had to shelve it because it needed a bigger budget. I will always be possessive about creative independence — why is why I can't work with stars. I don't even let actors come to the monitor and see the shot.
You found Kartik, one of the actors, on Facebook.
Yes. And, he was so nervous getting photographed. In fact, when the producers saw him, they thought he wouldn't be right. A month later, I called my stylist and showed the producer the pictures. The producer liked him this time without even knowing it was the same boy! I then did a four-month workshop with Kartik.
How did you arrive on your five-minute monologue that seems to be a hit with the audience?
It wasn't even planned that way. When I started writing that bit, I couldn't stop. When I completed, I realised it was four pages. It flowed well, and I thought we haven't seen a monologue like this, so let me shoot it in one shot.
You had disagreements with your publicists.
When we started the promotions of the film, I had to fight with the producers and publicists that I did not want to put any bikini or kissing shots in the trailer. Even an Anurag Kashyap today feels the need to promote ‘Shaitan' with a kiss between two girls. I don't want to support that trend. My film has worked purely on merit, and that's the message that needs to go out. You don't need sex and controversy when your film has merit.
Started work on the other film you wrote?
The film will start in the next two weeks. I've tentatively called it ‘Saathi'. I like to design the look and sound of the whole film, including the music.