At an interactive session at the 49th International Film Festival of India in Goa recently, trade analyst Komal Nahta cited Raazi as an example of how collaboration helps achieve a dream. Nahta and director Meghna Gulzar were on the same flight to Goa, when the latter told him about the journey of Raazi.
Raazi is based on the book Calling Sehmat by Harinder S Sikka. Before it was released, Hindustan Times had reported that Sikka was looking for his book to be adapted to film.
“Meghna Guzar had met Priti Shahani of Junglee Pictures. Shahani approached Harinder S Sikka for the rights of Calling Sehmat. Shahani dropped the idea after Sikka quoted an obnoxious price. Before or around the same, Meghna was also in discussion with Abundantia Entertainment and Akshay Kumar for a similar film. But that didn’t take off,” said Nahta
The spy thriller is based on the true story of a Kashmiri Muslim woman and her heroics. Sehmat, as director Meghna Gulzar named her protagonist, married a Pakistani soldier, and helped gather vital intelligence information for India. The film’s story and powerful performances appealed to both audiences and critics alike.
Meghna had written some 20 pages as a workable script. She then decided to take it to Karan Johar. Meghna called Shahani and asked whether she had read that script. Shahani hadn’t read the script, as she was dissuaded by Sikka’s price. However, the Junglee Pictures president then read the script and was blown away by it.
“After going through 20 pages of the script, Shahani told Meghna, ‘how can she not make such a film?’ Shahani didn’t think about the price now. So, this shows how people can collaborate and make a film, This is how Dharma, Junglee Pictures and Meghna Gulzar came together,” said Nahta.
Sikka was keen on veteran lyricist Gulzar directing the film, but Gulzar didn’t show much interest. It was then that superstar Akshay Kumar suggested Sikka consider Gulzar’s daughter Meghna for the same. Sikka had met Akshay at the screening of his film Nanak Shah Fakir.
“I met Akshay Kumar during the screenings of Nanak Shah Fakir and wanted to rope him [as a producer]. It was he who invited Meghna Gulzar for a meeting about this book at his home. Instinctively, I knew that I had found my film’s director,” Sikka had told Mid-Day.com. Now Akshay didn’t just help him find a suitable director but he was keen to produce the film but that didn’t take off.
Later, Junglee and Dharma successfully released Raazi, and the spy thriller went on to make over Rs120 crore nett at the box office.