Luv Ranjan: ‘I first told my stars that I had never worked with stars before!’
A full 13 years ago, he made his directorial debut with a film then considered a shade revolutionary—Pyaar Ka Punch Nama. It worked and Luv Ranjan next tried to go a shade different with Akaash Vani (2013), which flopped. Then came Pyaar Ka Punch Nama 2 (2015), which was a certified hit. This was followed by Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety (2018), which entered the 100 crore club.
Luv continued co-producing many other films and web series, including the recent Kuttey, but again found a 100-crore winner earlier in De De Pyaar De (2019), a rom-com with a strong message like many of his films. And in 2023, he is back with Tu Jhoothi Main Makkar, featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor.
As some of the actors he has introduced—Kartik Aaryan and Nushrratt Bharuccha—have turned stars, so in a way has Luv. The filmmaker deals with fresh and often contemporarily relevant social issues within the framework of young love.
I first ask him the obvious query: having worked with newcomers all his life, even in his newer films when they were no longer really new, what made him opt for stars this time and how was his experience with them? His first star was Ajay Devgn in his production De De Pyaar De.
“I think I was a bit lucky there!” he smiles. “I had no idea about stars as I had heard things about them! So I had preferred telling my stories my way with fresh actors. But when I began working with them, first with Ajay-sir—and closely so as I was both a producer and the main writer—and now with Ranbir and Shraddha, I first told them that I had never worked with big names—even Tabu was in the cast of De De Pyaar De. But none of them made me feel that I was working with stars!”
He goes on, “And let me tell you something: the intensity, hard work and patience that Ranbir gave me in Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar could not have come from a newcomer. Ranbir will give the director the best possible environment for the filmmaker to do his best work. He himself will manage in any environment but will provide his teammates with an environment in which they will get his best. And Ranbir is someone I had mentally wanted to work with even before he became a star—ever since I had watched the trailer of his first film, Saawariya!”
What about Shraddha Kapoor? “She was needed for my film. Shraddha brings the challenge and the freshness, and so was very necessary. But I must confess that I had signed both Ranbir and Shraddha along with Ajay Devgn for a gangster drama that never happened because of date issues. As both liked the idea of this film, they came on board. And over here, the pair looks very new. And making something new in the romantic genre is very difficult because a lot has been done already! And while Ranbir has played a lover-boy of the flirtatious kind earlier, Shraddha has never done anything like this. So she provides the necessary freshness.”
What about his tendency to have long titles for his films? Luv smiles again and confesses, “I am bad with titles! I struggle with titles! I end up registering all kinds of them and have 300 titles registered! I had, for example, registered Shaadi Mubarak as a title for Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety. But I was not happy with it as it did not really explain the story. Then a friend asked me what my film was about and I told him that in brief it was the story of Sonu’s Titu’s Sweety. And that’s how the title came about! So the title comes to me one day, not just by thinking about it—there is no science to it!”
His films have always commented on society and relationships. Luv agrees and says, “Society is more accepting now. I think that personal relationships are better now and have lost their formality. For example, the informality and closeness of Tu is not there when we would address our sweethearts with the word Tum.”
Luv has been surrounded by many good women in real life, like his mother and sister as well. Does that in some way give him the secure reason to show women in a negative light as in his Punch Nama series or in Sonu…?
“I have not opened up on my new film, except for the facet in the title, for a big reason: that I sell what people want from me!” he replies. “After three successful films, they will again expect this, because they think that I make only such films. But honestly, a lot of women don’t mind my films, because you cannot derive from my films that all women are bad. I was just telling the story of those who were in the wrong, that’s all. And objectively, we can always laugh at what happened with our friends, not if the same thing happens to us, can we? But no, there is nothing like all the good women in my life giving me freedom to show my heroines in a bad light!”
Hindi cinema, and even Hollywood, is now thriving on Universes—Rohit Shetty’s Cop Universe, Dinesh Vijan’s Horror Universe and Yash Raj Films’ Spy Universe. Is he looking at his own universe in the near future?
“Honestly, I have thought about this a lot in my free time!” he smiles. “Recently, Rana Dagubatti and I were discussing this very thing. And we both felt that we should also start getting into each other’s universes! Imagine if a Sid from Wake Up Sid! meets Sonu, or a Chulbul Pandey from Dabangg meets Singham. I think that going forward we will be mixing our characters!”
Finally, will the Ajay-Ranbir-Shraddha film happen? “I don’t know!” says Luv candidly. “I would not know if both of them and Shraddha would want to do that film now. I would still want to make it, perhaps, but that film was planned five years ago! And until I get Tu Jhoothi… out of my system, I will not be clear on what to make next, because I have other exciting ideas as well.”