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'What gave Kangana the right to tamper with what I did?'

January 28, 2019 14:45 IST

'What I directed was pure gold. Kangana turned it into silver.'

There has been much controversy around Manikarnika: The Queen Of Jhansi.

Its lead actress Kangana Ranaut took over from Director Krish and announced that she was the film's co-director.

Sonu Sood walked out, and his character was played by Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.

Krish explains why he has been quiet until now, and tells Subhash K Jha, "This film was not made to glorify Kangana Ranaut; it was mean to extol our great freedom fighters... She didn't understand that she couldn't play God with history."

There is a lot of speculation about how much of Manikarnika you have directed.

I saw the film. I'd say more than 70 percent is mine.

I remained quiet until the release; I had to for the sake of the film and the entire team, which worked so hard on it.

But now if I don't speak about what Kangana did to the film, I'd be doing a disservice to our hard work.

Many people advised me to talk after the film was taken away from me.

I'd say what I directed was pure gold. Kangana turned it into silver.

Why did you leave the film when it was on the verge of completion?

Every time I am asked this, my heart sinks.

Let me say this outright: I did not leave the film incomplete.

I left it when it was almost complete.

I shot Manikarnika for 109 days whereas I completed the NTR biopic in half that time.

Then we did the dubbing, post-production etc for Manikarnika. Only then did I move to my other commitment.

For me, the film was complete.

Everyone had dubbed except Kangana.

Then what happened?

Once I finished, she promised to do some patchwork under my guidance.

She promised she would shoot for four-five extra days and send me details.

No such thing happened.

She said she had to re-shoot many portions because my cinematographer Gnana Shekhar had not done a good job.

What nonsense is she saying?

Every actor, every technician gave their life and breath to the film.

 

This film seems to have taken from you more than it has given.

At the end of the day, it is my baby.

I am relieved that the grandeur, the vision and the scale that I imagined remains intact.

The climax in Jaipur (doubling up for Gwalior) was shot entirely by me.

I charged half the fee that I get for my Telugu films as I wanted to be a part of this historical attempt to bring Rani Laxmibai's story to the screen.

This is the highest number of days I have shot for any film, and I have directed complex costume dramas like Kanche and Gautamiputra Satarkarni.

In Kanche, I had shot five war scenes, so I know the complexities of shooting a period film.

We shot a huge battle scene in Hyderabad.

The film was supposed to release on August 15, 2018, and I completed the film in June. Only a small portion had remained, which we agreed to shoot later.

I had to direct the NTR biopic since the director, who was supposed to do that project, was shifted out.

Then that whole thing with Sonu Sood happened.

IMAGE: Lyricist Prasoon Joshi, Producer Kamal Jain, Kangana Ranaut, Director Krish and Composers Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonsa at the launch of the film in 2017.

What happened?

Kangana decided to re-shoot Sonu's entire portion. He had shot for 30 days! So you can imagine what she wanted to remove.

I remember when she saw the first cut, the first thing she said was "Sonu Sood is too overpowering, na?"

As an antagonist, Sonu Sood was very strong. That's how we had designed the film. For the protagonist to appear powerful, the antagonist has to be strong.

In the credits, Kangana's name comes before yours.

I must tell you how this whole tamasha of the credits unfolded.

In the beginning, it was just my name 'Krish' on the poster.

In fact, I remember we released a poster on my birthday, November 10.

Kangana cut the cake with me, we hugged, etc.

Anyway... on the second poster and in the trailer, suddenly mera naam Radha Krishan Jagarlamudi ho gaya.

Why?

Perhaps to confuse the audience about my identity.

I asked why my name was changed in the poster and she said that I hadn't supported her when Sonu Sood spoke against her, so why should she bother?

Why should I have supported her when I knew Sonu was right. He took a stand and said he would not shoot the film with her.

Why did your changed name bother you so much?

In Telugu cinema, they know me as Krish.

Then in the trailer, her name came as director after mine.

At the time of the film's release, her name came first as director, then mine.

When I rang her up to confront her, she said, 'No, No, I have shot so much.'

What she did basically was remove Sonu Sood's role, reduce it substantially and replace him with another actor, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub.

Then, she shot the new actor's close-ups and inserted them in scenes that I had shot.

I am telling you 70 percent of what you see on screen is mine.

This is my fourth period film, and I was given to do Manikarnika because of what I had achieved in the other three period films.

It was (scriptwriter) Vijayendra Prasadji who called me to direct this film.

He had seen my work and knew what I was capable of.

In fact, I suggested the title Manikarnika.

I read close to 20 books on Rani Laxmibai before directing this film.

I worked closely with Vijayendraji. We began shooting at Annapurna Studios in Hyderabad after the puja.

When people ask me why I left the film, I get very upset.

I didn't leave.

I shot 95 percent of the film.

She did her own thing with 5 percent. She did her own thing with Sonu Sood's role just to satisfy her ego.

I never wanted a confrontation. I am not that kind of person, but when I see what was done, to my vision, I feel very angry and sad.

I am talking now regardless of how the film has fared because that's how I had planned to speak.

I remember Sonu Sood's character was introduced with a kushti (wrestling).

Kangana wanted to know why he should do kushti.

I wanted the action to be raw and real. Even the fights with the women were designed as raw.

Not just Sonu Sood, even Atul Kulkarni's character of Tayta Tope has been reduced.

Yes, really sad.

This film was not made to glorify Kangana Ranaut; it was mean to extol our great freedom fighters.

The film is great even now, but I had made a greater film. She didn't understand that.

She didn't understand that she couldn't play God with history. Yeh yahan se nikalo, woh yahan dalo... It doesn't work that way.

Why did the producer allow her to over-ride your vision?

Exactly. The producer should answer that.

What authority did she have to remove Sonu Sood?

Have you ever heard of anything like this?

She was, of course, the protagonist, but I am a reputed director directing a genre that I know.

What gave her the right to tamper with what I did?

And the team's hard work, the sleepless nights, the toil...

More than anything else, when you are working on an epic film, it is easy for anyone to come at the last minute and claim credit.

Sonu Sood directed five shots; he can also claim to be co-director.

The few scenes that needed to be shot after I left were to be done by my assistant director. Suddenly I discovered that she is co-director.

It was pre-decided, an elaborate plan to undermine my directorial status.

On August 15, 2018, I was the director. On October 1, 2018, I was the director.

Then, suddenly, she is also the director.

I argued with Producer Kamal Jain, but he stood by her.

I don't want to say anything about him as he is in hospital. What was the necessity of taking out Sonu Sood and doing her own thing?

Now that you have spoken out, do you think there will be repercussions?

I had to set the record straight.

I needed a proper closure for my film.

Manikarnika is my baby.

Would Sonu Sood or Atul Kulkarni have signed the film if Kangana Ranaut was the director?

They put their heart and soul in it.

It is my team's hard work that is being undermined.

It's not about shooting. It's about executing.

Many people from Mumbai have called to congratulate me.

What I made was to perpetuate the phenomenon of Jhansi Ki Rani, not Kangana Ranaut.

Subhash K Jha
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