‘Our film is not about Ram or Ravan’

Any publicity, they say in showbiz, is good publicity.

But not when it could impede the release of a movie.

Which is why the title of Pratik Gandhi’s upcoming film — his performance in the Web series, Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story, received much applause and brought him national attention — has been changed from Ravan Leela to Bhavai.

According to a statement by the makers, the decision was taken after receiving audiences’s requests ‘to respect their sentiments’ and change the title.

Incidentally, this is not the only movie with Leela in its title that that ‘outraged sentiments’ and been forced to adopt a new/modified name.

While Ravan Leela has become Bhavai, Gandhi underlined that the rechristening is “not the answer to the broader question”.

Set against the backdrop of the popular folk theatre form from Gujarat, Bhavai marks the Gujarati actor’s first Hindi feature film as lead hero.

In the film, which is directed by Hardik Gajjar, Gandhi plays Rajaram Joshi, a stage artiste who essays the role of Ravan in a Ram Leela, which is traditionally performed during the festival of Dussehra.

Bhavai looks at two actors from the Ram Leela and how their performance in it affects their personal life.

The 41-year-old actor said the film does not glorify Ravan.

“We aren’t showing any interpretation of Ram or Ravan in the film. The film is not about that at all.

“That’s why the team thought that if sentiments of a certain section of society are hurt, we don’t mind changing the name if that satisfies them.

“But I’m sure that’s not the answer to the broader question. We changed the name, but will that solve anything?” Gandhi asked PTI.

The audience must understand the difference between reel and real life, he added.

“If someone has played the role of Hanumanji, will he never get married? It can’t be like that.

“The job of an actor is to bring the story to the audience via the screen.

“Actors also have a personal life and, when the audience forgets this, it becomes a problem, which is the story of the film,” Gandhi said.

Earlier in the day, director Gajjar said the team is confident Bhavai will entertain the audience.

“I am happy to honour the wishes of my stakeholders and audience. The love we have received for the film thus far resonates of the fact that good cinema is the need of the hour.

“Cinema, and our film, is a medium meant to entertain people.

“Audiences have showered Pratik with love for his work and we hope that this film will only see it multiply.

“It’s a film that is close to our hearts and we are confident that audiences will love it with all their hearts too.”

Bhavai, which also stars Aindrita Ray, Rajendra Gupta, Rajesh Sharma and Abhimanyu Singh in pivotal roles, is set to release in theatres on October 1.

Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/ Rediff.com

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