“The reviews are generous and overwhelming.”
“Unfortunately, it’s not in the numbers and technically you could call it a flop.”
“I don’t understand what to get out of it…I’m at my wits end…”
PICTURE: Ayushmann Khurrana and Jaideep Alhawat in An action hero.
After a grueling promotion for his directorial debut An action herodirector Anirudh Iyer says he will spend the remaining days of the year with his family.
The Mumbai-born director received critical acclaim for the action-comedy thriller, but the film fell short at the box office when it came out on December 2, something he’s trying to understand.
A crackling exploration of movie stars’ toxic relationship with media and fans, the film follows superstar Maanav (Ayushmann Khurrana), who, after getting caught in an accident during filming, tries to save his skin from murderous city councilor Bhoora (Jaideep Ahlawat ). ).
“I’m going to take 15-20 days off because I haven’t spent time with my family. I’m going to take it easy. On January 1st I’ll be back and start working again. Hopefully next time we’ll do well in both aspects — reviews and box office returns,” Iyer tells PTI.
The filmmaker, who worked as an assistant on Aanand L Rai’s Zero and Tanu Weds Manu returnssaid his next, like his first film, will also have topical undertones.
“I have a few stories that I’ve been working on. I want to open my books and pick something that makes sense to be told right now,” he adds.
IMAGE: Director Anirudh Iyer with Ayushmann Khurrana on the sets of An action hero. Photo: kind courtesy Anirudh Iyer/Instagram
As a director for the first time, Iyer said he was more of a bundle of nerves An action hero went on floors.
“It’s not just for new directors. Even when you’re making your 10th movie, I’m sure the feeling that goes through your head is that you’ve seen the whole movie 10 times in your head before you even start filming. “
Once the shoot starts, things start to change, he said.
“It starts to get real, so the whole perception that you have in your head starts to change. It’s a scary feeling. But after you get past the first three to four hours, it starts to settle. You get more into your convenience,” says the 33-year-old.
While waiting in the wings, he assisted Aanand L Rai, who backed off An action hero through his Color Yellow Productions, Iyer always dreamed of the day he would direct his first film.
“You always dream of making your own movie one day. In the process, you end up writing a lot of stories. I had a collection of stories that I wanted to tell when I finally got there,” he said.
IMAGE: Ayushmann Khurrana in An action hero.
An action hero was also one of many stories scribbled in his notebook.
The director said he revisited the film’s story with writer Neeraj Yadav during the pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020, at a time when the Hindi film fraternity was making headlines for all the wrong reasons. From allegations of ties to the drug mafia to the debate between insiders and outsiders, Bollywood has always been a soft target.
“I took that story out again, sat down with Neeraj and started writing. It seemed like the most current, relevant story that could be told at the time. There are a few more stories I have. Some are timeless, others could be told a little later. But this felt like it had to be said now. That’s why we chose this film,” he explains.
While the film pokes fun at the current state of TRP-hungry TV news outlets and hate-fueled social media, it also sheds light on a movie star’s insecurities, tantrums, and vulnerabilities.
Iyer is crystal clear about what his job entails — entertainment — but he won’t shy away from contributing to society through his work.
“We are artists, not activists. It is our job to hold up a little mirror in some way, through entertainment and fun. Art should be ahead of its time. I feel that if enough of us are ahead of their time, that’s how society evolves over the years. We can contribute to that.”
What An action hero also details are the intricate comparison between celebrities and fans, and how they complement each other.
IMAGE: Anirudh Iyer. Photo: PTI photo
The director, who started his film career making corporate films for brands like Cinthol and Godrej, said he made sure not to take sides in the making of the story.
“I made sure there were no prejudices. I didn’t tell you what’s right and what’s wrong. I just wanted to tell you a story. Now it’s up to you, as an intelligent audience, to choose what you want from it. my job was to tell you this is the story, you have fun. If you want to get something out of it please do, otherwise just have fun, so the idea was to always keep it that way.”
Working with Khurrana and Ahlawat was a “fantastic experience,” added Iyer, who said the characters played by the duo represented the celebrity and audience respectively.
“The chemistry was important because that’s the relationship the stars have with people. It’s a love-hate relationship. It’s so complicated, weird. We wanted to crack just that. I told them to have fun with it.”
IMAGE: Nora Fatehi and Ayushmann Khurrana in An action hero.
But the box office’s disappointing response is something he’s still trying to process. Fitted on a reported budget of Rs 40 crore (Rs 400 million), An action hero was able to raise Rs 16 crore (Rs 160 million) at the counter. Although the word of mouth surrounding the film was positive, it failed to generate higher collections.
Every filmmaking experience, regardless of success or failure, carries a lesson, Iyer believes.
“What’s happened in this movie is I can’t find closure. Everyone who’s watched the movie, the reviews and the comments have been so generous and overwhelming. But unfortunately it doesn’t show in the numbers and technically you should call it’s a flop. I don’t understand what to learn from it, I don’t know how to improve on this. I don’t know what to close.”