Namrata Singh Gujral, the director of Indian-American movie 5 Weddings is upset with her lead actor Rajkummar Rao over his lack of involvement in promoting the film. A rumour was doing the rounds last month that Rao wasn't keen on doing promotion for the film, but Gujral told The National that this wasn't the case. But, it seems things have now changed. "What do you do when your lead actor bails on your film?" the director asked.
"Either he didn't want it to release in India or do the Hindi dub, or thought it was just a small film, but I have never seen an actor behave like he did. I don't think I can forgive him for that," Gujral says of Rao. The National has reached out to Rao and his manager for comment.
The actor's Instagram is full of promotion for Airbnb this week, but there is nothing about 5 Weddings.
The sour episode has only added to the two-time cancer survivor's troubles after she backed herself against the odds to tell the story of transgender women in India. "We had to edit it so many times ... But we decided to let it go through rather than not have it all."
But, as she says, "In Sikhism, everything is pre-destined. Your film too will find its destiny."
Originally, the movie was meant to be a normal wedding rom-com, but when Gujral decided to bring in the transgender storyline, investors backed out and she self-financed the movie, partly under the banner of Uniglobe Entertainment, along with Vision Films.
Gujral then had to battle the censor boards to get her movie, which tells the story of India's transgender community, released worldwide, and her pet project took nearly 10 years to take off from scripting to being released, across theatres in 54 countries, including the UAE and India, this weekend.
The lack of promotion isn't the only hiccup Gujral has had with Rao, who is enjoying a boost in his career with the success of Newton to Stree this year. The shooting of 5 Weddings wrapped up in November of 2016, and a huge part of the delay was because of wider issues, but Gujral also stalled it to do a personal favour for Rao.
Since 5 Weddings is essentially a Hollywood film with an East-meets-West theme, the film is connected to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Getting a card from SAG enables artists to act in Hollywood and Rao was interested in getting it, at that stage of his career at least.
According to Gujral, she promised to hold the movie. When the card application got rejected after a six-month wait, Rao tried a second time while Gujral kept waiting.