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Niren Bhatt on why Harshvardhan Kapoor was cast in ‘Ray’

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Niren Bhatt reinterpreted an original short story of Satyajit Roy for the screen adaptation “Spotlight”, one of the segments of the recent anthology, “Ray”, starring Harshvardhan Kapoor and Radhika Madan.

“I think one of the common feedback we got for ‘Spotlight’ is this could have been an original story. It is true that in the screen adaptation I have changed a lot of elements, and have taken creative liberty, but I think that is how creative interpretation should be. The core of the original story was the meeting between a filmstar and a spiritual guru, eventually who turned out to be a fake man. We kept that – of filmstar and religious guru – the two elements of our society who are considered to be celebrated. But, the twist of gender, power struggle and casting of two budding Bollywood actors made it a fun watch,” feels Bhatt.

He explains the thought process behind changing the spiritual guru into a young godwoman.

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“I wanted to show the power struggle. We have very few female spiritual leaders and as a human being, females hold a much stronger power than males. Here, Vik (played by Harshvardhan Kapoor), a male superstar looks small before ‘Didi’ (the godwoman, played flawlessly by Radhika Madan) while in reality both of them are acting! ‘Didi’ is a fake godwoman and Vik is an actor who is constantly told by all his near ones that ‘tujhe to acting hi nahin aati, image ke bahar tu kuch nahin hai (you can’t act, you are without your image), the worse actor ever’!! He is well aware of his limitation. So, yes, it is the fact that Didi and Vik are putting up a show, yet there is a power struggle, is what makes the narrative gripping!” says Bhatt.

Despite not having commercial success with two earlier films – “Mirzya” and “Bhavesh Joshi Superhero”, why did Vasan Bala (director of “Spotlight”) and Bhatt cast Harshvardhan Kapoor?

“We needed a budding superstar instead of an aging superstar. You see, when you are in the business for 30 years successfully, even though hits and flops affect you, you hold a sense of belonging to stardom, to cinema, to the spotlight. Whereas look at all the youngsters of today — be it Ayushmann (Khurrana), Varun (Dhawan), Pratiek (Babbar) and many of them who are experimenting with every film instead of sticking to one genre. Each experiment is a risk, so the tension in the back of their mind is palpable. With Harsh, who I know is a good actor, after two unconventional films, instead of signing up for a more commercial ‘safe’ genre, he agreed to do this film. Again, experiment, risk and a certain palpable vulnerability. We couldn’t have a better Vik!” Niren claimed.

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‘Ray’ streams on Netflix.

–By Arundhuti Banerjee

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