“It is about celebrating your differences, it’s a shout-out to inclusivity. There are many reasons why we hate someone or judge others, but it’s about rising above those differences, accepting each other, and living with love. We were playing with the same stereotypes.
“In the film, no one is perfect. Like, this (culture) is a stereotype but when you invert it, you dig deep, you fall in love with the differences… Eventually, they stand for each other, they rise above those (things). Everybody understands there’s no perfect community, perfect person or perfect love. You have to first make the stereotypes to break them,” Moitra, also belongs to a Bengali household, told PTI in an interview.
The writer, whose dialogue credits include “Shakuntala Devi”, “Bade Achhe Lagte Hain” and “Four More Shots Please!”, said Johar’s brief was to keep the story “relevant and entertaining”.
The filmmaker, who returned to direction after 2016’s “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, had already begun work on the script of “Rocky Aur Rani…” with Shashank Khaitan and Sumit Roy before Moitra came on board as screenplay and dialogue writer.
Within high drama and entertainment, Moitra said they wanted to make a film with “modern values”.
“But within that construct, ‘Let’s make it a modern film with today’s progressive values’. We were trying to subvert that genre as much as we could, while making sure that all the trappings that people love and crave for are in place,” the 39-year-old added.
For Rocky’s part, Johar and Moitra wanted Ranveer to be the male version of Geet or Poo, both characters played by Kareena Kapoor Khan in “Jab We Met” and “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham”, respectively.
“(He is) someone bubbling with energy and one-liners, someone who comes into a room and everybody can feel, someone’s arrived… For Rani’s part, we wanted her to be a very opinionated, feisty girl, but at the same time we wanted her to be vulnerable, adorable and loving…” she said.
While the film is shouldered by Rocky and Rani, played by the “Gully Boy” co-stars, Moitra said they wanted all the characters to have a “voice”.
“Everybody has a complete arc… It’s not just about the love stories per se. It is also about the internal struggles that people face in a society and in an institution of marriage, especially women. The film questions those norms in a fun way. It’s not preachy, but it could provoke some thoughts in your head,” the Bareilly-born writer added.
As someone who grew up on love stories such as “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge” and “Jab We Met”, Moitra said she wanted to be part of Johar’s cinematic universe as she missed lip-synced songs and sweeping chiffon sarees, a wish that came true with the film’s tracks like “Tum Kya Mile” and “Dhindora Baje Re”.
“This is the kind of cinema that we used to love and lately, it’s gone missing… I wanted to be part of something like this and Karan Johar is a master of this.
“The grandeur, intimacy of relationships that he juxtaposes against these huge scale sets… Within this, we were trying to do the same kind of film, but with different values and takes,” she added.
“Rocky Aur Rani…” also stars veteran actors Dharmendra and Jaya Bachchan in the role of Rocky’s grandparents and Shabana Azmi as Rani’s grandmother.
“You wait for veteran actors like these and whenever they come on screen, they light up the screens, there’s magic,” Moitra said.
Casting Dharmendra as Kanwal, a poet, was an “inspired choice” by Johar, she recalled.
“He writes poetry, so it was like playing himself or at least a certain aspect of himself… We always thought it would be only Dharam ji for the part and no one else,” the writer added.
Bachchan as the “evil” Dhanalaxmi has done full justice to her role, said Moitra.
“Even though she’s playing evil, she plays it in a fun manner. She doesn’t play it like Yash Raichand (Amitabh Bachchan‘s character from ‘Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…’). She has killed it. It was just so good to see her crush this part completely,” she said.
Azmi’s turn as Jamini was a “masterclass” in acting, the writer added.
“She had built up a huge back story for her role. She’s not Bengali, and she worked so hard to perfect the Bengali accent,” Moitra said.
“Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahani”, which hit the screens Friday, has earned over Rs 27 crore in two days.