He first saw Mirza-Sahiban love story in a college play and director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra says he was so struck by the character of Sahiba that he kept returning to the folklore and finally decided to tell it in his upcoming film “Mirzya”.
Mirza-Sahiban is one of the four popular tragic romances of Punjab. The other three being Heer-Ranjha, Sohni-Mahiwal and Sassi-Punnun. Mirza-Sahiban is the only love story where the heroine ends up sacrificing her lover to save her family.
“I was in college when I saw the play. After the end of the play, the director would come and ask ‘Why did Sahiba break the arrows?’ That stayed in my head. Why would she sacrifice the one she loved the most? 30 years later, I asked this question to Gulzar bhai. He said ‘Bacche, I don’t know. Why don’t you ask this to Sahiba’ I said ‘I can’t find her, so you tell me’,” Mehra told PTI in an interview.
The director, who has produced the film with Cinestaan Film Company, recently released the second teaser of the visually stunning drama that will introduce Sonam Kapoor’s younger brother Harshvardhan Kapoor, Saiyami Kher and Anuj Chaudhary. The movie is slated to release on October 7.
Gulzar has written a movie script after a long time but Mehra says it was not difficult to convince the poet-lyricist, who also happens to be the director’s neighbour.
“He has written a script after ‘Hu Tu Tu’. He is my neighbour, my guru and mentor. He has been very patient with me. I have always followed his writings very closely. It was definitely a very important moment in my life to take his work and make it my own.”
When asked why it took him three decades to finally direct this love story, Mehra says his past three films were like a trilogy, exploring the idea of changing oneself be it “Rang De Basanti”, “Delhi 6” or “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”.
“I finally finished the thought with ‘BMB’ and I could move on to another story. With ‘Mirzya’, I wanted to explore the idea of love, the element of sacrifice, and the role of jealousy and possessiveness. In the play, what stayed with me was Sahiba. She is a very strong, central female character.”
The director is aware of the curiosity surrounding his lead actors but is confident that people will like the hard work that has been put by them in the movie.
“The good thing is I had them with me for a year before we began shooting. I gave them one year of my time. We did not hurry at all. They took classes and worked on every aspect be it diction, dialogue delivery or physical training. When we felt they were ready, we shot the movie. My cast and crew was available to me this entire time.”
Mehra takes sometime in coming up with his movies but the director says the delay is not intentional.
“It takes time. I will not lie, I also wish to come up with a movie every year or at least every two years but it takes time. For me, movies are perpetual, they are not
something that come and go. They are a part of me and I have to live with them for the rest of my life. Also, I am always exploring to say something new, discover something new.”