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How Raazi came to be produced by Junglee Pictures and Dharma Productions

At an interactive session at the International Film Festival of India in Goa, trade analyst Komal Nahta revealed the story behind Raazi, as told to him by director Meghna Gulzar.


Mayur Lookhar

Alia Bhatt-starrer Raazi is one of the more successful films of 2018. 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 to achieve a dream.

Nahta and director Meghna Gulzar were on the same flight to Goa, when the latter told him about Raazi's journey. Nahta disclosed that Abundantia Entertainment and Akshay Kumar were first in the fray to produce the film. So, how did Raazi eventually land up with Junglee Pictures and Dharma Productions?

Raazi is based on the book Calling Sehmat by Harinder S Sikka. Before it was released, the Hindustan Times newspaper 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 film rights of Calling Sehmat. But 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. Sehmat, as director Meghna Gulzar named her protagonist, married a Pakistani soldier and helped to gather vital intelligence for India. The film’s story and powerful performances appealed to both audiences and critics alike.

Meghna had written some 20 pages as a working script. She then decided to take it to Karan Johar. Meghna called Shahani and asked whether she had read the script. Shahani hadn’t, as she was put off by Sikka’s asking 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 I 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 that veteran lyricist-filmmaker Gulzar direct the film, but Gulzar didn’t show much interest. It was then that actor Akshay Kumar suggested that Sikka consider Gulzar’s daughter Meghna. Sikka had met Akshay Kumar at the screening of his film Nanak Shah Fakir.

“I met Akshay Kumar at the screenings of Nanak Shah Fakir and wanted to rope him in [as a producer]," Sikka had told the news portal Midday.com. "It was he who invited Meghna Gulzar for a meeting about this book at his home. Instinctively, I knew I had found my film's director." Akshay Kumar didn’t just help Sikka find a suitable director, but he was keen to produce the film. That, however, did not happen.

Later, Junglee and Dharma successfully released Raazi, and the spy thriller went on to make over Rs120 crore nett at the box office.

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