Inshallah is Delayed Days-Weeks-Unscheduled Time Ahead of Filming

What a weird story! I don’t think there is any big secret scandal to be unearthed here (except for my personal and almost certainly inaccurate crazy theory), but it is interesting to discuss because there is so much history and backstory and at the same time, so much unknown.

Let me start way back when. When Bhansali was just starting out, a crazy outsider director with a dream, he came up with a brilliant movie idea (a hearing child of a deaf couple who is a beautiful singer and falls in love with an outsider from their small community over their shared music). He put together an interesting cast, headlined by Nana Pataker as the father and Manisha Koirala as the heroine. And then Manisha went and talked to her friend/co-star Salman and brought him in. It was 1996, Salman was in a slight down turn in his career, and the role was really more of a cameo. And it was open to interpretation, he could play it as a “Salman” role more than something that followed the directors exact vision. Salman believed in the film so much, and was friendly enough with Bhansali, that his second mother Helen also appeared in the film. It turned into a bit of a surprise sleeper hit, and was critically acclaimed.

See? It’s Manisha’s movie, Salman just shows up to be charming and Salman-y

A few years later in 1999, Bhansali organized his follow up film. Salman’s girlfriend Aishwarya got the lead role, and Salman got another role that was loose enough to allow for him to perform how he wanted in the part. The other actors were increasingly directed, perfectly arranged shots and angles and gestures. But Salman was still loose and free, did what he wanted with the part.

Bhansali moved on, made other movies, not with Salman. And then came back to him for Saawariya for a role that was even more of a cameo than their first film together. And Salman and Bhansali didn’t fit together any more. The two leads were Ranbir and Sonam, trained from the ground up by Bhansali to do exactly what he wanted. He had workshops and plans, sets built, elaborate songs worked out, everything to exactly match his vision. And there was Salman, just kind of showing up and stumbling through a role that didn’t fit him in a world that didn’t fit him any more. There was no space for his Salman-ness.

Where is there space for Salman to improvise? Is it any wonder that he doesn’t even get a song sequence in this?

Every movie after Saawariya has followed a Bhansali pattern. He has a specific grand vision and that means actors doing months of workshops, sets being built and rebuilt, everything perfect and exactly as he planned it. And in the meantime, Salman has found his own Salman-pattern more and more. He will show up on set when he wants, he will insist on changes to the film to match what he thinks his fans expect, he produces his own movies to give himself even more control. And he’s not wrong, he is the most guaranteed successful actor in Hindi film today, he knows what people expect from him and how to make it happen, and he will ride roughshod over his directors and other collaberators to make it happen.

And then there’s Alia, the late comer. She generally seems like a director’s dream. Everyone who has worked with her loves her. She works hard, she shows up on time, she gets into her character and makes it work. But if you go a little deeper, there is a particular kind of director she works with best. The directors who are like/inspired by her father, which makes sense. The ones who are all about getting the actors into the characters and just letting things flow. Alia is amazing in the deeper emotional kind of performances partly because that is the kind of acting that comes naturally to her, latching on to those deep emotions and just riding them out.

So, why the heck did these three talents think they could work together? At first it looked like they were all taking a leap that made sense. Salman was coming off a couple flops that followed the “Salman” formula, he and Bhansali had a long history together, and Bhansali was riding high on a bunch of hits. Alia was signing films left and right, working with all kinds of different directors and different genres, as made sense for a young actress trying to learn and make her mark. And Bhansali claimed to be ready to try something different, a smaller film with a straight romance plot.

As more stories came out, you could see the way they were all trying to compromise. Bhansali was planning a tight 100 day schedule on location. Meaning none of the excess of sets, of looooooooong filming schedules, all the things that made him more of an authoritarian director instead of a flexible one. Alia was moving around what she could move, arranging scheduling, and giving interviews explaining how excited she was to work with Bhansali. So, okay, Bhansali and Salman were both ready to take artistic risks and meet in the middle, and Alia was ready to keep trying new things.

But lately there have been cracks. It was confirmed and definite that filming would be primarily in Orlando in Florida. And then suddenly it was going to be in Bombay instead, probably so Salman could keep filming Big Boss on alternate days. Not exactly the kind of dedicated character commitment Bhansali has been used to from his actors for the last few films. Meanwhile, Alia was already struggling with the films she had, Brahmastra was delayed again, and the other movies weren’t on the floor yet even if they were announced. And then she literally worked herself sick, had to suddenly shut down filming on Brahmastra and take a break because she was too sick.

Image result for alia bhatt airport sick

Filming is supposed to be starting on Inshallah, the Bhansali movie, any day now. But even that has kind of conflicting stories. Salman is in Jaipur finishing off the last shooting schedule for Dabangg 3 and the word from there was that he had 8 days left, leaving Inshallah to start in Bombay on the 24th. But the word from Bhansali’s team was that it was starting on the 21st. And then other rumors said that Alia and Salman and Bhansali had already gotten together unofficially for some readings.

Yesterday Salman out of nowhere tweeted that the film was “delayed”.

And then Bhansali productions tweeted today:

So, this is all very weird! Especially because Alia hasn’t been heard from at all yet. Right now, to me, it feels like a “too many cooks” problem. Salman is Salman, so as soon as it looked like shooting wasn’t going to go as planned, he took it upon himself to leap in to make an announcement. And he wasn’t totally wrong, from the perspective of Salman he had a commitment to his fans to announce ASAP that his Eid 2020 plans had changed. I’m assuming he also activated plans immediately to make sure his other movies moved around to make sure something else could fill that Eid slot. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of people within the industry who would have to know that Salman was a free agent for Eid. Salman doesn’t like doing things behind closed doors, naturally he would make a big open announcement and let his fans know and the industry know instead of telling people one at a time.

And then there’s the Bhansali tweet! Which wasn’t actually a “Bhansali” tweet, it was from the production company. That’s a difference right there, Salman put out a personal tweet from his personal account. Bhansali Productions is trying to be a little more corporate and a little less personal. And at the same time, do you catch the subtle jockeying for power? “Bhansali Productions has decided” while Salman just said “the film is pushed”. Bhansali may have been the second one to make the announcement, but they made sure it was shown as THEIR decision, not Salman’s.

And Alia is staying the heck out of it. No tweet, no comment, nothing. Can you imagine these three people in a room together trying to collaborate? Salman being blindly confident in himself and never even thinking about others. Bhansali desperately trying to exert control. And Alia disappearing as she sees no place for herself in this whole thing. Blech! No wonder the film fell apart!

Or, my conspiracy theory that is just made up in my head, Alia’s pregnant. Stomach problems? Sudden halt to her film, and then canceling her next movie out of nowhere? Your mind has to go there!

Anyway, what do you think?

9 thoughts on “Inshallah is Delayed Days-Weeks-Unscheduled Time Ahead of Filming

  1. I do think this is a Salman-Bhansali tussle…they were probably arguing over everything from script to costumes…and Bhansali is one of the few directors who would rather shelve than compromise his vision….this can’t be due to Alia…Salman/Bhansali can find a replacement actress in a matter of minutes…it didn’t take long to recast Bharat or Ram Leela when actresses dropped out of those films!

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    • Heck, we already know they must have argued about location! Everything I see says that the filming was moved to Bombay to be convenient for Salman’s shooting of Big Boss. I could see Bhansali compromising on that, being willing to shoot interiors first or whatever. But the other things we have all heard of Salman having an opinion on, stuff like what he is willing to let his character do and not do, wanting a catchy popular song from the composers he likes, wanting an opinion on casting of supporting roles, I can see Bhansali being pushed to the limit on any of those points. At least it sounds like neither of them is angry with the other or offended, it just didn’t work.

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  2. I’m saying YES to both your theories! Firstly I was already very skeptical right from the moment it was announced that Salman and Bhansali are going to be working together. We know Salman likes to do things his way and Bhansali likes to do it his way and be more controlling of his project. Both are strongheaded person thus them working together seems well impossible. So last night right after I saw the tweets from Salman and Bhansali production company, I saw pictures of Alia and Ranbir and Alia was wearing this super huge dress and some of the comments are saying how it looks like maternity wear.

    Anyways, I’ll be happy if the project eventually takes off because I’m very curious to see the plot and story that Bhansali has for Salman and Alia. I’ll be happy too if this dream project gets shelved as it just seems too big a dream. Let’s see what happens in the future!

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    • Maybe it was the theories combined? If Alia had to drop out because of pregnancy, Bhansali and Salman would both assume they had the right to pick the replacement heroine and I can’t see either of them compromising on that. Nor should they necessarily, that is a really big part of a star’s prerogative, and a director’s. It would have to be a name that both of them were equally happy with and outside of Alia, maybe there just wasn’t one.

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  3. Ok I read a blind item going into detail regd the fallout..
    Will post the link when I get it.
    According to it salman wanted to have his own sister friend style and be costune designer who has done bis recent films.
    Bt slb felt she was not equipped to do such a big film ,so it lead to a huge fallout.
    Which ulyately lead to film getting dropped.

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    • Yeah, that makes sense. Alvira has done the costumes for his last 4 movies I think, at least for his character. She’s not bad, Tubelight even had period costumes that worked and in Sultan she put him in sweater vests for the second half which was a great choice. Inshallah was supposed to be contemporary so it wasn’t crazy to think that Alvira could still do the costumes for his character. Besides that, costumes are kind of a basic thing for a star to have input in, it’s important for him to have a look that fits with his persona, that he feels comfortable in, and that can be moved flexibly to his real life for promotions, and so on. I am sure Salman had input in his costumes for HDDCS and Khamoshi, especially in the second half of HDDCS, I recognized those suits from his other movies. But on the other hand, micro-manager Bhansali is going to want total costume control because he’s had it in his last few movies. It’s just a mess, and this kind of thing should have been worked out in detail before the film got this far along.

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      • Yup and knowing salman he wants total control over artists also likehe wants particular music directors singers etc. And will not work with ppl he did not like .so it was a terrible terrible decision to work together.

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  4. Whatever issues Salman and SLB had, it’s a shame that they took so long to realize that it wouldn’t work. It goes to show the kind of power men have in the industry that now Alia is out of a movie and probably has a big gap in her schedule. She is privileged so it’s okay but if this sort of thing happens to an outsider, it would be really difficult for them to survive months with a paycheck. Not to mention that it really screws with their career and possibly not having a movie release all year.

    Salman created such a fuss when Priyanka left his last movie because it would difficult on him for a few days. He went on complaining for months and months. Now he and Bhansali can totally screw up Alia’s schedule and it’s fine.

    These are things that should be taken care of long before people sign the movie.

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    • Or to put it another way, it was a three star picture. Did you hear of anyone besides Alia being involved? So maybe they just ran this by Alia and then took the decision since there was no one else to be inconvenienced. Maybe they wanted to make the decision before additional roles were cast and schedules confirmed.

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