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Krish Jagarlamudi Opens Up About Manikarnika, And Fallout With Kangana Ranaut

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Krish Jagarlamudi, who was signed on to direct Kangana Ranaut’s historical drama Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi has opened up about his role in the film and controversies over the directorial credit, in an interview to Bollywood Hungama. Despite having directed numerous Telugu movies and Akshay Kumar’s Gabbar, he was replaced in the credits by the actress when the film was released.

Before Manikarnika’s theatrical release, a screening was held for the President for which Jagarlamudi wasn’t invited. When asked if he was hurt, he said “I’m not sad I wasn’t invited for the screening. At the end of the day, the film is bigger than everything. I am just happy that the president watched it.”

The movie had been mired in controversies ever since its announcement. Ketan Mehta sent a legal notice to the makers claiming that the movie’s idea was his and he had been in talks with Kangana Ranaut to star in the movie. In his complaint, he had alleged that both Ranaut and the movie’s producer Kamal Jain had hijacked his movie. Jagarlamudi said that he was approached way later. “By the time it came to me, the entire thing was sorted. Vijayendra Prasad (the movie’s writer) told me that Ketan Mehta’s movie was not happening.”

The movie then made news when Karni Sena had raised objections. Talking about the issue, Jagarlamudi says “The issues with Karni Sena had been sorted long back. We let them know about our script and how we were planning to portray the characters. I don’t think there were any issues after that.”

“I had shot the movie for 109 days,” he says before proceeding to explain the timeline of events.

“The first poster of the movie came out on August 15. I was the director then. The teaser that came out on October 1st saw my screen name ‘Krish’ being changed to Radhakrishna Jagarlamudi – my real name. The trailer that released in December showed Kangana Ranaut’s name alongside mine as a director. When the movie eventually came out, it credited her as the sole director and my name came way into the credits.”

“I was going through huge humiliation,” he says, as both Ranaut and Kamal Jain asked him to speak to the other person when he sought an explanation. “I refrained from picking calls and talking to people as I didn’t want the movie to take a beating. I had made up my mind to talk about it only after the release of the movie.” This isn’t the first time Ranuat has been involved in a tussle over credits. Earlier she had a spat with Simran writer Apurva Asrani when she staked the claim for writing credits. While Asrani was more than happy with her taking the additional dialogue credits, he didn’t take to the idea of sharing the writing credits with her.

The duel led to the movie’s director and Asrani’s collaborator for 16 years, Hansal Mehta, disassociating with him and terminating his editing credits too.

Ranaut had said that Jagarlamudi’s version was an action revenge drama while she envisioned it as a patriotic film. So, what was lost in the translation? He explains, “The portions of other great personalities were cut. The people deserve to know the role of other personalities like Tantya Tope too. Why was it necessary to take off these portions? The Queen might not be fighting. There was a sequence which had Tantya Tope fighting outside the fort and the queen watching and waiting behind the walls. The idea was to sandwich the British soldiers between the two forces.”

Atul Kulkarni essayed the role of Tantya Tope. “He is a great actor. And we had waited for his dates to film these portions,” he adds.

According to Jagarlamudi, everything was good during the shoot. “Apart from minor frictions, we never had any major problems.” It all started after Ranaut watched the rough cut of the film. Apparently, Sonu Sood’s portions did not go down well with the actress. Krish says in the video that Kangana said, “Arey, Sonu Sood is too overpowering no?”

Kangana Ranaut’s subsequent interference in the directorial duties saw Sood eventually leaving the project. While Ranaut claimed that the Sood left the project refusing to work under a female director, Sood in his statement explained that he had worked with Farah Khan for Happy New Year and said that the gender of the director was not the issue but competence was. Subsequently, the makers were forced to release a statement saying Krish Jagarlmudi was the sole director and Ranuat was merely acting in it.

Being a prominent character, Sonu Sood had shot for close to 40 days. All those portions had to be reshot. “There was a fight sequence between Kangana Ranaut and Sonu Sood’s characters. It was my dream to shoot that. I had to even brave a fever to shoot the sequence,” said Jagarlamudi.

“I believe it was because of my refusal to side with her during the Sonu Sood fiasco that led to the snatching of directorial credits,” he says. “It’s not just Kangana. It’s about thousands of other people who have worked on the film. And they have put their blood and sweat into it,” says Jagarlamudi who thinks the actress is a bit too focused on herself.

However, he is not ready to deride the present version of the movie. Calling it his ‘baby’ he says “What I shot was golden standard. What we have now is silver standard. It’s still my baby but adopted by Kangana. She has nursed it.”

He is only worried about the controversy over the directing credits becoming a blot on the movie. “It is going to crop up every time people talk about the movie.”

So will he be wary of working in Bollywood again? “I have many apprehensions. But it is my job to direct movies. So I will do Hindi movies eventually, much bigger and larger in scale, but only after a short break,” he says.

Image Courtesy: Raj TV News

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