" There is a genuine and moving love story here," is what Anupama Chopra wrote in her review of the recently released Satyaprem Ki Katha, which stars Kartik Aaryan and Kiara Advani. What starts out as a love story gradually gives way to an exploration of trauma after Advani's character is revealed to have been raped. The film's producer Shareen Mantri-Kedia talks about what drew her to the story, the film's box-office success and casting actors in unconventional roles.
What drew you to Satyaprem Ki Katha? From a producer's perspective, why did you think this was a project that you wanted to back?
To begin with, our vision at Namah Pictures is to back projects that could be across various genres but at the core of it, must tug on our heartstrings in some form or the other. That's precisely the feeling we had when we were developing the script.
The simplicity and beauty of the world, the warmth of the characters and the important message that the film carries gave strength to our intent to bring forth this film. There are very few films that bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eyes at the same time.
In Satyaprem ki Katha, it is eventually revealed that a key character in the film is a rape survivor. Was it a deliberate choice to not disclose this information as part of the film's pre-release publicity?
The film's pre-release publicity campaign was actually deliberate in many ways because we didn't want audiences to approach the film with pre conceived notions on the intent of the film. Conversations around physical assault and abuse of any kind needs to be treated with special care and respect. One feels that a message is best received when it's not expected. We didn't want to "prepare" the audiences rather let the event unravel organically as part of the narrative. The idea was to allow people to feel their way through the film and come out cheering for Sattu and Katha's love.
Conventionally, the characters played by Hindi film heroines usually conform to certain moral values. Do you think Kiara Advani's character's unconventional story arc helped Satyaprem Ki Katha's word-of-mouth publicity?
I think the film's success is an outcome of the hard work and sweat the entire team put into making this beautiful love story. I don't think any one aspect can be looked at in isolation when defining the success or popularity of a film. We knew right at the outset that we were making a strong statement while entertaining the viewers and we wanted to preserve its essence. I truly feel it's the purity of the love story, coming after long, that's generating the word of mouth and pulling the audiences to the theatres.
Kartik Aaryan is playing a character that is different from his previous roles. His character is initially seen as a bit of a loser. What made you confident that the audience would accept him in this role?
We always had Kartik in mind from the time the script was being developed. He has the innocence, charm and warmth that we were always seeking in Sattu. Sattu's character and the way his family was structured resulted in role reversals of various kinds. The fact that his evolution of heart and mind all happened within such an unexpected environment, both before and after marrying Katha was actually what made the story work. If such a strong voice had to emerge, it needed to come from a completely unexpected setup and character. Plus Kartik came in and added his own special touches to the character which didn't just make it work but made it shine. The sensitivity and maturity with which he portrayed Sattu and the innocence he brought to the character made Sattu sparkle on screen and make a place in everyone's heart.
Were you surprised when the film earned as much as it has in the box office? What were your expectations?
From the script level itself, we knew that the story would find a connect. Once we saw the first cut, we knew we had something special on our hands and something we would always be proud of. We are extremely grateful for the love and acceptance that the film is garnering.