We’ve learnt from very reliable sources close to ‘Aiyyaa’ that director Sachin Kundalkar, reveling in his image of the National-award winner, had his way over and above the wishes the producers, and insisted on editing the film the way he wanted to.
A very distressed pivotal player in the fiasco that is Aiyyaa says Kundalkar showed a very different version of the film to his producers Viacom and Rani Mukerji from what he finally edited and released in theatres on Friday.
Says our source, “It is customary and mandatory for directors to show the final cut to the producers Viacom 18. That’s how the new corporotized system of filmmaking works in Bollywood. For better or for worse the director is no longer the final authority on how a film should be edited. The version of Aiyyaa that was shown Viacom 18 in the presence of the film’s co-producer Anurag Kashyap and Rani Mukerji (who incidentally took extremely active in the making, production, post-production of the film) was very different… I’d say radically different… from what finally went into the theatres on Friday.”
When one pressed the source to pinpoint the differences between the version screened for the producers and the version that was released the source said, “For one, the version shown to the producers and leading lady was much shorter, close to two hours. You can’t have a comedy stretching into 2 ½ hours. Viacom and Rani and everyone close to the project now believe that the length of the film finally did it in. The situations dragged on endlessly in the version Kunkadlar insisted on releasing without the producers’ knowledge or consent.”
Apparently, repetitive scenes of Rani stalking Prithviraj were added after the producers and Rani saw the version that screened for them.
The worse blow to the Box Office prospects of Aiyyaa was the additional song that Kundalkar apparently inserted in the film at the last minute.
Says our source, “The climax song What to do which has been roundly condemned by critics and audiences as being interpolative, intrusive, vulgar and offensive was never meant to be in the film. It was supposed to be a promotional song featuring the film’s supporting lead-pair Amey Wagh and Anita Date. How and when it became part of the film, no one knows. It comes on to break the film’s completely.”
Apparently Rani was horrified when she saw the directors’ cut on release.
Says our source, “She was specially shocked by the inclusion of the What to do song. But she kept quiet, as the song didn’t feature her. Rani and the producers have been wondering why the additional promotional song went into the film when there were three hot chartbusting item song composed by Amit Trivedi climbing up the charts. In fact the girl Anita Date who plays Rani’s friend had only four scenes in the cut that was shown to the producers. When the film released she was all over.”
While Rani and Viacom 18’s head honcho Vikram Malhotra understandably refrained from comment, it’s clear that there is a substantial degree of bitterness and resentment among the film’s core crew about the director’s insistence on doing his own things, specially since the end-result has been deeply disappointing.
Says a source, “Aiyyaa is not so much a blow to the producers as it is to Rani Mukerji who poured her whole and soul into the project. Their only consolation is that Aiyyaa performed better than Ram Gopal Varma’s Bhoot Returns.”