The rot that runs deep in the Bollywood is getting exposed one story at a time. The can of worms which had opened after the death of Bollywood’s brightest star Sushant Singh Rajput has snowballed into a massive movement, and the Bollywood biggies and elites are rightly being called out for the horrible work culture that has been festering for so long where outsiders are tormented and books with nationalistic and patriotic endings are metamorphosed to suit the leftist agendas by showing the Indian forces in a negative light.
In an interview with WION, famous writer and a former Indian Navy officer Harinder Sikka has spilled the beans on how his book was twisted around by Meghna Gulzar to push her vested agenda and also how he was not given the due credit for his contribution after he gave away the rights.
Pls read Calling Sehmat. She didn’t return as depressed woman. Instead,she saluted Tri-colour. Band played National anthem.
Raazi shud hv got National Awards, become folklore.
Meghna had promised she wouldn’t tinker. I felt back stabbed.
It still hurts. https://t.co/BG9Uu6ggGe
— Harinder S Sikka (@sikka_harinder) April 26, 2020
Meghna Gulzar’s ‘Raazi’ starring Alia Bhatt was based on Sikka’s book named “Calling Sehmat” and garnered good reaction from the critics and fans alike, however, the film fell flat during the National Awards where it was completely skimmed over by the jury.
Explaining the paradox, Sikka pointed out that Meghna Gulzar had breached his trust by backstabbing him as she changed the ending of the movie without consulting him. The eventual theatric cut with the altered ending proved to be the undoing of the movie.
“Meghna did a blunder with ‘Raazi’ which is why she did not get a National Award. In fact, I was backstabbed by them(Meghna Gulzar and Gulzar)” said Sikka in an interview to WION.
Sikka did not stop here and iterated that how his book ending was completely flipped on its head.
“In the book- when Sehmat comes back to India- she goes in front of the tricolour and salutes and thanks to the motherland for having her back.” explained Sikka.
He further added that had the film kept the book’s ending, then it could have won the National award.
“The film should have also had a similar ending. Instead, Meghna made her comeback as a depressed woman. It seemed that a Kashmiri woman had done a blunder of sorts,” the author added.
Harinder Sikka also added that Meghna treated her contemptibly after taking the rights of the movie and the screenplay, supervised by Sikka himself in the initial stages.
Sikka revealed that he was not invited by Meghna for the movie screening, despite being given repeated assurances earlier.
“The makers brought the film prior to the release. Showed it in Imperial Hotel, Delhi to senior army officers. This was 2 months before the release of the film- but I was not invited. I learnt much later. She knew that if I had watched, I would have raised objection about the ending.” said Sikka.
Sikka added that it was a vice in the Bollywood industry that once the story rights are given to makers, writers seldom have a say in the screenplay. Sikka felt that the practice needed to be called out.
Sikka’s book was based on a real-life story about a Kashmiri woman who dedicated her life to India. But Sikka felt that whilst the book sent out an important message—the movie’s ending derailed the original message. The Indian army was portrayed in a negative light in the movie and that is what has hurt the author.
“I took 20 lakhs less when I sold the rights of ‘Calling Sehmat’ to Junglee Pictures. I gave all the money to charitable organizations. I don’t write for the money- which is why it hurt more when they fiddled with such a powerful story.” added the ex-Navy officer.
It is not the first time that Bollywood has treaded on such a road where a writer’s trust and vision are breached, and it certainly won’t be the last. Sikka has initiated a very important conversation and people like Meghna Gulzar need to be called out for their behaviour. Meghna is next helming a project based on legendary Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw and we sincerely hope that she doesn’t push some of her vile ideas through this movie, yet again.