Kanika Dhillon’s parents thought she’d lost her mind when she set out to become a Bollywood screenwriter. It’s not exactly the default career choice for a woman with degrees from St Stephen’s College and the London School of Economics. “They thought I’d get over it,” says Dhillon, who worked at Shah Rukh Khan’s production company Red Chillies for four years and has written three books. She never did.
Instead, her first Hindi solo credit for story, screenplay and dialogues releases on September 14. Called Manmarziyaan, it’s a love triangle set in Amritsar. More than the writing, Dhillon’s particularly proud of the additional credit of creative producer. She was involved in every stage of the film from preparation to shooting—and it wasn’t easy.
Directed by Anurag Kashyap and starring Taapsee Pannu, Vicky Kaushal and Abhishek Bachchan, the film almost didn’t materialise after Sameer Sharma was replaced as director and actors Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushmann Khurrana dropped out. The uncertainty was “upsetting”, she says. However, Aanand L. Rai’s “rock solid” belief in her work kept her going. Filmmakers are now queuing up for Dhillon’s words. Her next release is a romance set around the Kedarnath floods of 2013 followed by Mental Hai Kya in 2019, a psychological thriller directed by her husband Prakash Kovelamudi.
Kanika Indian cinema has a wide representation at the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival with a screenwriter and actor making their debuts