‘Pathaan’ director on why film worked: ‘There was a thirst SRK created for him’

'There was a lot of curiosity to see Shah Rukh Khan back after his hiatus', said Siddharth Anand

Los Angeles: Making an observation that should set younger stars, who love to be everything everywhere all at once on social media, thinking hard, ‘Pathaan’ helmer Siddharth Anand said in an interview with ‘Variety’ that the film owes its stupendous success to “a lot of curiosity to see Shah Ruk Khan after his hiatus.”

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The Yash Raj Films spy action thriller ended a box office drought for Bollywood, which had a lean 2022, and marked a comeback for Khan, not seen as a leading man since 2018’s ‘Zero’, ‘Variety’ notes.

Anand, who comes from a Bollywood family (grandfather: Inder Raj Anand; uncle: Tinnu Anand) and has been helming films since his debut with ‘Salaam Namaste’ in 2005, said to ‘Variety’: “There was a lot of curiosity to see Shah Rukh Khan back after his hiatus — he took a break from media, from appearances, he just became inaccessible to the world. There suddenly was a thirst that he created for him — today, audiences are used to stars being out there in social media and events and everywhere.”

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“He created that enigmatic quality, that mystery around him, which a star should have and then did a film that is in a very popular genre,” Anand continued. “That, coupled with the fact that the teaser landed so well, the songs became such huge hits, and to top it all the trailer gave the impact that it should. Everything just fell into place for the film. That’s what created this mass hysteria.”

Explaining that his “thumb rule for a thriller is that you should give enough twists and turns to the audience so that they are not ahead of you,” Anand told ‘Variety’ that he worked closely with screenplay writer Shridhar Raghavan and dialogue writer Abbas Tyrewala, both members of his team for his previous blockbuster film, ‘War’ (2019), to create a twisty screenplay laced with punchy dialogue.

The focus then shifted to setting up the six action set pieces in the film, with an emphasis on the emotion behind the action, which is critical for South Asian audiences.

Looking into the future, Anand told ‘Variety’: “I don’t want to be limited by genre. I used to make romcoms. Today I’m making action films. Tomorrow, I might want to make a courtroom drama. There might be a slice of life, or just an outright comedy that I want to make. … I want to be able to surprise the filmmaker in me and keep him alive. Keep him on the edge.”

Next up for Anand is Viacom18’s aerial action film ‘Fighter’, which reunites him with Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone. Ten days of shoot have been completed on the film and the next schedule is due to commence on Friday. The aim, as ‘Variety’ notes, is to release it on January 25 next year, exactly a year after ‘Pathaan’.

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