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Story of ‘Crew’ wouldn’t have changed even if there were three heroes in the lead: Rajesh A Krishnan

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New Delhi, March 27: Would the story of “Crew” remain the same if it featured Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan leading the upcoming heist comedy?

“I don’t think so,” says director Rajesh A Krishnan, who views his protagonists Tabu, Kareena Kapoor Khan and Kriti Sanon at par with the Khan trio.

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After his 2020 directorial debut “Lootcase”, Krishnan is coming up with “Crew”, which follows three air hostesses working for a fictional airline called Kohinoor. With the carrier on the verge of bankruptcy, their future seems uncertain but then they find a dead passenger smuggling gold biscuits.

The director, also an advertising professional, said unlike film’s producer Rhea Kapoor, he isn’t “married to the idea of women-centric films”.

“I made ‘Lootcase’ and the next one which I am making may or may not have a girl in the lead. For me, with all due respect, I look at them as my Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir.

“If it were three men, would the story have changed? I don’t think so. I won’t get into who is Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir out of the three of them. I’d be happy to let you speculate,” Krishnan told PTI in an interview. Had the protagonists been male, the issues might have been slightly different, he added.

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“But, to me, the response that these characters give to their adversity, if not better, it would have been at par with what the three men would have given. It’s what the men would have done,” he said.

Would films ever be free of brackets like “women centric” or “women oriented”?

The filmmaker said there are many “optics” to such labels.

“If somebody had come to me with a bad script of three women, it wouldn’t have appealed to me. Some people use these tags to their advantage, some misuse it. And then there are others who abuse it. I am not particularly a fan of tags like women centric, male centric,” he added.

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Krishnan, also known for the popular web series “TVF Tripling”, said tags have no bearing on pulling audiences to the theatres.

“I don’t think people come to theatres because a certain film is women centric or not. I want a lot of women to come and watch ‘Crew’ because women bring families. “I also think many men will come to the theatre, unless they didn’t like the trailer or the word of mouth. I don’t think they say ‘Oh, this is a women-centric film, I’ll not watch it’.” Getting Tabu, Kapoor Khan and Sanon to star in “Crew” was a “casting coup”, he said. The film also stars Diljit Dosanjh and Kapil Sharma.

“You’re working with very crafty actors… Rhea has single-handedly gone out there… I don’t know what kind of demons she fought – time, resources, planning, getting dates of all these people together. I loved the cast and the actors were already looking forward to doing this film, but they were looking for a director.

“My stars aligned and they really liked me. I cannot tell you what all we have learnt from someone like Diljit being on set. Kapil is like a livewire. It was an unbelievable experience. I would gawk at the actors and forget to call for a cut sometimes,” he recalled.

That “Crew” would have three different people from three different micro time zones was tattooed on the script, said Krishnan.

“All three of them Tabu, Bebo (Kareena) and Kriti are like a decade apart in terms of the characters they are playing. All three of them have different sets of problems in life.”

It was, however, a massive challenge to make the audience forget about the combined star power of the three actors. “They come with some kind of baggage with the number of films each one of them has done. How do I make people forget that this is not Tabu, with whom you associate very intellectual, arthouse, auteur-led films, albeit she has been constantly breaking the mould by doing commercial cinema like ‘Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2’, ‘Drishyam 2’… We had to figure out what personality we are going to put into each of these characters,” he said.

While the story, penned by Nidhi Mehra and Mehul Suri, comes from a real environment, the incidents have been manipulated to give the audience thrill and joy. The plotline and the red colour costume of the Kohinoor airline staff mirrors that of the real-life Kingfisher Airlines, which ran into continuous losses, high debts and finally shut down within seven years of commencing operation. Its chairman Vijay Mallya subsequently fled to London to allegedly hide from creditors.

Krishnan said the story of “Crew” is a collective look at several commercial carriers in India. (PTI)

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