A few days back I reported that rumor had it Mahira would be replaced in Raees, or at least the producers were investigating finding a different actress. One of the commentators pointed out that this wasn’t a very reliable report, which I agree with, but it was in Bollywoodhungama, which means that if it was wrong, at least they would give a detailed follow-up. Which they now have!
My guess is that the Raees filmmakers sort of soft released the idea that Mahira might be replaced, to see how people reacted. And to see if there was any way they could actually replace her, any appropriate actress in India that would work. But now ADHM is officially releasing, so the PR concern is less. And they have confirmed that they actually can’t replace her, the loss would be too great.
Or else the whole thing was a PR movie, spreading a rumor she would be replaced to buy time while they waited to see how the ADHM issue worked out. And now that ADHM has shown the way forward, they are coming up with reasons to backtrack. Although I do think the reasons are true, just whether they came to this conclusion just now, or after about 5 seconds of consideration 3 weeks ago, that’s not clear.
Back when Mahira was first announced, I said (to myself and my friends, this was before I was blogging) that they must have needed a Pakistani actress, because they needed someone old enough and experienced enough to play opposite Shahrukh, but who could arrange her schedule around his. All the Indian actresses who would fit that bill, would be a nightmare to schedule.
(Remember how Dilwale felt like Kajol was in it less than Johnny Lever? That’s what I mean by scheduling difficulties)
And, yep, that’s the same conclusion the producers reached! Mahira’s character has to age from 18 to 35, and she has already dedicated 20 days to filming. There is no way they can find an Indian actress capable of playing that range and dedicating that much time at the last minute. So instead, they will follow ADHM‘s lead and donate 5 crore to the Army Welfare Fund to buy off the protestors (that is, if the army will even take the money, one of the commentators said on the last article that they have announced they don’t want forced donations).
Mahira might have a few more days left to shoot, but they are looking at possibly shooting out of country, maybe Dubai. If that is what happens, that will be a fun game once the movie releases, “spot which scenes were shot last minute in Dubai!”