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Kangana Ranaut: “Apurva Is Not Fighting For His Credits; He’s Hell-Bent On Not Giving Me Mine”

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Soon after writer Apurva Asrani took to social media to accuse Kangana Ranaut of stealing his writing credits in Hansal Mehta’s Simran, and even imploring his good friend and director to “show some spine” in the process, actress Kangana Ranaut opened up to HuffPost India about her side of the story. 

While Apurva in his Facebook post lauded Kangana for making it big in Bollywood despite being an outsider, he said it was “demeaning for any writer’s name to be pushed after an additional writing credit”. Apurva features as the “story, screenplay and dialogue writer” in the poster, but his name appears after Kangana. 

And like most of her interviews, Kangana didn’t mince words and explained why this wasn’t an isolated incident involving Apurva. 

“When I was shooting for Tanu Weds Manu Returns in Gurgaon in December 2014, Hansal Mehta came to me with Sarbjit. A 15-page draft. I did not like it. He told me he’ll improve on it and we jointly decided to work on it.

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Eventually the project never flew and someone else made it. But the idea always was to collaborate as I’ve been a fan of Hansal’s work. I told him that if we align our sensibilities, we’ll have a winner at hand. My intention was to take Hansal Mehta and bring him in a fun, slice-of-life zone. When he was in the US, he called me and mentioned a BBC documentary on a woman who took to a life of crime. He said he wanted to develop it with me in the lead. I agreed, saying let’s work on this together. Apurva was nowhere in the picture. When I asked Hansal who’s writing it, he told me he usually collaborates with his editor, Apurva Asrani, and that’s how he came into the picture. Hansal assured me about his credentials saying he ‘almost’ wrote Shahid and Aligarh and being a fan of these films, I agreed to come on-board,” she said.

Kangana also emphasized that Apurva’s story was a dark thriller, but as an actor, she knew such a film wouldn’t do justice to the Rs 30 crore budget the project was on. “With the kind of script we had, that wouldn’t be possible as it’d appeal to very limited people. Hansal then told me that I was free to talk to Apurva and get the script tweaked to make it more accessible,” she said, adding that actors are money-minded people, and she isn’t someone who would simply ‘lend’ her ideas for nothing.

“When I started collaborating with Apurva, I realised this isn’t a writer who matches my expectations. And when I enquired about his previous writing work, I realised he hadn’t done them,” she added.

Incidentally, accusations against Apurva for not being the original writer of Shahid were brought to the fore recently. Sameer Gautam, who claimed to be the original writer, took to Facebook soon after Apurva’s post went viral, and revealed that Apurva is a regular offender when it comes to hijacking credits.  

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Kangana further said: 

“Nobody can take away from the fact that if Simran today is a story of a divorced woman, it’s entirely introduced by me. If the film has feminist undercurrents, I included that. The father-daughter track, the lover’s track in the film — these are subplots that I added. Even Apurva cannot take away from that, why should I be giving my precious time when I already have other commitments. It was a trying time also because I was shooting Rangoon at that time, a very difficult film. I had to do these things because I wasn’t given a team of competent writers. Later on Hansal did a draft of his own and I could sense that he was under enormous pressure. He wanted to break away from Apurva but he couldn’t.

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We did three drafts together and I still wasn’t satisfied. I couldn’t sense a spark. Finally, Hansal and I agreed that we’ll fine tune this in the US (they reached there about a fortnight in advance) and I’ll write the dialogues on sets,” she said.

Also, when Hansal wanted to break away from Apurva, things got difficult, Kangana revealed. 

“When we had the conversation about sharing credits, he lost it completely and drove everyone insane. This was when the nepotism controversy had broken and this man tells me, ‘Do you really need another controversy?’. It was a threat. Basically he was saying if I don’t shut up, he’ll go ahead and tarnish my image as a ‘trouble-maker’ which is exactly what he has done despite getting the credit!”

Kangana then summarised what she could make of the entire showdown over credits:

“Understand again: Apurva is not fighting for his credits. He already has them. He’s hell-bent on not giving me mine.”

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