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An Action Hero director Anirudh Iyer: I have a bank of stories that I want to tell

The filmmaker made his directorial debut with An Action Hero, starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Jaideep Ahlawat, which released on December 2

PTI New Delhi Published 19.12.22, 03:55 PM
Anirudh Iyer (second from the right)

Anirudh Iyer (second from the right) Twitter

Filmmaker Anirudh Iyer, who made his directorial debut with An Action Hero frontlined by Ayushmann Khurrana and Jaideep Ahlawat, says he has a bank of stories that he wants to tell.

“You always dream that one day you will make your own film. In that process you end up writing a lot of stories. I had created a bank of stories that I wanted to tell, when I eventually got there,” he said.


The Mumbai-born director received rave reviews for the action-comedy thriller but the film fell short at the box office, something he is trying to wrap his mind around. An Action Hero released on December 2.

The film is a crackling exploration of the toxic relationship of film stars with media and fans. It follows superstar Maanav (Khurrana) who gets caught up in an accident while filming and tries to save his skin from the murderous municipal councillor Bhoora (Ahlawat).

Following a gruelling promotional run for An Action Hero, Anirudh will spend the remaining days of the year with his family. “I am going to take 15-20 days off because I haven’t been spending time with my family. I am going to take it easy. January 1 onwards, I’ll come back and start working again. Hopefully next time, we will do well in both aspects — reviews and box office,”

The filmmaker, who worked as an assistant on Aanand L Rai's Zero and Tanu Weds Manu Returns, said like his first movie, his next will also have topical undertones. “I have a few stories I have been working on. So, I want to open my books and pick something that makes sense to be told at this time,” he added.

Anirudh said he was a bundle of nerves before An Action Hero went on floors. “It isn’t just the first-time directors. Even when you are making your 10th film, I am sure the feeling that goes through your mind is that you have seen the whole film in your head 10 times even before you start shooting. Once the shoot begins, things start changing.”

“It starts becoming real, so the whole perception that you have in your mind, it starts changing. It’s a scary feeling. But after you get past that first three-four hours, it starts to settle. You become more at ease,” the 33-year-old recalled.

As he waited in the wings shadowing Rai, who also backed An Action Hero via his Colour Yellow Productions, Anirudh always dreamt of the day he would direct his first film.

The director also said he revisited the story of An Action Hero with writer Neeraj Yadav during the pandemic-induced lockdown in 2020 at a time when the Hindi film fraternity was making headlines for all the wrong reasons. “I took out that story again, sat with Neeraj and started writing. It just seemed like the most topical and relevant story to be told at that point. There are a few more stories that I have. Some are timeless, some can be told little later. But this felt like it has to be said now. That is why we picked this film,” he added.

While the film mocks the current state of TRP-hungry TV news channels and hate-fuelled social media, it also shines a light on the insecurities, tantrums and vulnerabilities of a film star.

Anirudh said he is clear about what his job entails, but he won't shy away from contributing to society through his work. “We are artists, not activists. Our job is to somehow through entertainment and fun show a little bit of a mirror too. Art is supposed to be ahead of its time. I feel if enough of us are ahead of their time... that is how society evolves over the years... We can contribute to that aspect,” he explained.

The director, who started his film career by making corporate films for brands like Cinthol and Godrej, said he ensured he didn’t pick any sides while crafting the narrative. “My job was to tell you that this is the story, you have fun. If you want to take something from it, please do, otherwise just have fun, so the idea was to always keep it like that.”

But the underwhelming box office response is something the filmmaker is still trying to process. Mounted on a reported budget of Rs 40 crore, An Action Hero was able to raise Rs 16 crore at the box office. While the word-of-mouth publicity around the movie was positive, it was unable to generate higher collections.

Every filmmaking experience regardless of success or failure comes with a lesson, said Anirudh. “What has happened in this film is I am not able to find closure. Everyone who has watched the film, the reviews and the comments have been so generous and overwhelming. But unfortunately it's not shown in the numbers and technically you would call it a flop. Now, I don’t understand what to take from it, I don’t know how to improve this. I am at a loss for closure.” He concluded.

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