By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: A lot of pre-release publicity is being heaped on the new comedy Total Siyappa. But the behind-the-scenes back-story of how the film lost its original title is far more interesting than Ali Zafar and Yami Gautam trying hard to be funny and cute at the media events.
The film was originally titled Aman Ki Asha, as it fitted in nicely with the concept of the Indo-Pak story. However the title is closely and inextricably associated with a cultural peace plan initiated by a publishing house.
Hence calling the film Aman Ki Asha would not only have seemed an extension of the campaign mooted by the publishing house it also might have been an infringement of copyright.
When asked, director Eeshwar Niwas says the old title just didn’t fit in.
“We didn’t want people to think it was another Veer-Zara kind of love story,” says Niwas, leaving you wondering what’s wrong with Veer-Zara. Also, if Total Siyappa is a love story about an Indian girl and a Pakistani boy, what is wrong with it being perceived as one?
The film written by Neeraj Pandey was directed by E Niwas in London in an air of supreme secrecy.
Pandey, whose first film A Wednesday was a critical and commercial winner and was remade into three languages, has scripted the remake of a 2004 Spanish film Seres Queridos (Only Human) a comic love story of a Jewish girl and Palestinian boy, which has been transposed by Pandey into an Indo-Pak setting.
Pandey’s protagonists in the Hindi remake of Seres Queridos are an Indian girl named Asha and a Pakistani boy named Aman. Predictably, the film was called Aman Ki Asha as it also conveys a deep-felt message on amity across the border.
Then the title went for a toss.
Interestingly, Neeraj Pandey’s A Wednesday was not only remade into Tamil and Telugu it was also remade into the English language under the title A Common Man with Ben Kingsley and Ben Cross playing the roles originally played in Pandey’s film by Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher.