25 Mar 2019,11:45 IST
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`Tum` isn`t my life story: Aruna Raje
By Lata Khubchandani, India Syndicate

Also see: Stills: Manisha minus body double in `Tum`!

After Bhairavi Aruna Raje did a couple of documentaries - one on Mallika Sarabhai and one on mentally-challenged children - called The New Paradigm. Both fetched her National Awards.

For her Mallika film, she says: "We worked on looking at how she works, and what makes her tick. Mallika as a person and an artiste. It was interesting."

She recounts her experience of making her forthcoming `Tum`, in a chat with Lata Khubchandani:

The film sources from life - looking at people seeing what goes on in their life. It starts with a real incident and ends up in a murder, everyone has a reason to kill and each one thinks that the other one has done it. It deals with something that happens one night and the repercussions on the family. The protagonist played by Manisha Koirala, is this honest woman, she is naive, she is innocent, she is not worldly wise she makes her mistakes and tries to make amendments for it.

I decided my cast given by the characters. Ratan Jain of Venus liked the stories and asked who could do this. When I had thought of this film earlier, I thought of Rekha as the protagonist, because we needed someone who could play mother to two kids. But last year, when I was close to making the film, we thought of other options because we had to keep in mind, who would be willing to play a mother. I thought of Manisha, and we both agreed that she would be perfect for it. I went to Manisha and narrated the story to her. As soon as I finished the narration, she said, "yes I am doing this film."

After that, everything fell in place. For the male lead, I was very clear that I wanted Rajat Kapoor for it. Luckily, the producer gave me a free hand. There were a number of actors who wanted to do the role. We worked in an atmosphere of complete trust faith, love and comfort.

Manisha used to be really prepared for her role, as soon as she stepped out of her make up van she was the character she was playing, she used to do a lot of homework. That was a big help. We did have some sessions before with Manisha and Rajat, readings, discussions, going into the background, what the character would do or not do - getting the look right, Apart from this she worked on her character on her own. I hardly had to tell her to do this or that.

There is Dipti Daryanani, who plays Manisha’s daughter. There is another girl Natanya Singh, who plays a photographer’s girlfriend. There is Karan Nath. Bobby Darling has a good role, I had met him earlier when I was thinking of doing a TV serial and he was delighted to be playing the character I gave him, he was so involved, so happy, so committed and so willing to give of himself. Earlier for my serial, I thought of casting him as a girl but in this film I’ve cast him straight as a boy and that delighted him.

The story deals with the repercussions of something that happens one night - and how Manisha tries to hold the family together, her integrity comes into play and is threatened, the relationship between the husband and wife because the husband is so trusting, he doesn’t have a clue to what is going on, slowly he starts beginning to wonder.

If you ask me what genre the film falls in, I’d say my films were always commercial, but they were never formula films. I have never veered away from what is commercially viable. They have strong stories as also in Tum, it is the story that takes it forward. Today, story-telling has come back with the multiplex culture with globalisation, not everybody is interested in formula that’s why today people are able to tell all kinds of stories.

The music is by Himesh Reshamiya, and I am very happy with it. It has a lot of melody and carries the story forward. People have been saying that this is my life story, but that is very far from the truth - there is nothing biographical in it. The biographical elements for any filmmaker will be in the little details etc, this is definitely not a biographical film. The only time I did a biographical film was for TV - about a man and woman and a child who is dying.