Filmmaker Meghna Gulzar says though her latest project "Raazi" is about patriotism, she wanted to steer clear of resorting to sloganeering or Pakistan-bashing to make the film saleable.
Adaptation of Harinder Sikka's novel "Calling Sehmat", "Raazi" is about an Indian woman who marries a Pakistani military officer to carry out espionage during the 1971 India-Pakistan War.
"The story itself is such a powerful one that we don't need planks of placard carrying jingoism… You say what to say and you do that simply and honestly. When you are making a film on patriotism and you are not bashing Pakistan, you need brave people to back it," Meghna told reporters last evening.
The director, who was speaking at the success press conference of the film, said the movie's performance has been close to her heart.
"It's special because I have been told it's genre defining… That it's unlike any stereotype spy film, it's unlike any Pakistan-bashing stereotype and I am glad about it because if anything, the acceptance of 'Raazi' shows that it's the audience is ready to see anything that's different and breaking the stereotype," she said.
Asked about her approach of showing the Pakistani people through a humane lens and not clouded with animosity, Meghna said they are humans too.
"We don't need to show someone as bad to show ourselves as good… You don't need slogan cheering for that. The story was such that neither it was needed nor did we feel the need to add various things to make the story spicy and saleable," she added.
Alia Bhatt, who plays Indian spy Sehmat in the film, said the vulnerability of her character was challenging.
"In this film, I needed to be mad about the character and when your director gets and loves your madness, there's nothing better than that. How vulnerable an actor feels in front of the camera, especially while playing a character like this…
"It's like being surrounded by fire and you can feel the heat even when you are aware that it's not there," Bhatt said.
"And your director tells you, 'I know what you are going through. You are not alone and we are in this together', and this is important that I went on this journey with someone," she added.
Meghna's father, legendary poet and writer Gulzar, was also present.
Gulzar, who has penned the lyrics of the film's songs, said that, as a father, nothing is bigger than to be in the midst of his daughter's audience, which made Meghna teary-eyed.
Also present at the event were other cast members Vicky Kaushal, Soni Razdan and Jaideep Ahlawat, among others.