Hindi News

Screenwriter Duo Siddharth and Garima to Make Directorial Debut With ‘Saale Aashiq’

Siddharth and Garima, the screenwriter duo, will make their directorial debut with Hindi film Saale Aashiq, based on the subject of honour killing. They are also working on their next film Dukaan, which revolves around the subject of commercial surrogacy.


Saale Aashiq has recently been picked up by Sony Pictures India, while Dukaan was announced in 2018. Both the films are scheduled to start soon in the latter half of this year, they told Silverscreen India.

Saale Aashiq “goes beyond” honour killing, said Garima. “The story will not make you feel bad for the lovers. We thought what if two lovers decide that they will not take this kind of treatment anymore? It will be a bold film, for sure.”

Talking about Dukaan, Siddharth said that the idea of the story popped up when they read a news story about the rampant commercial surrogacy in Anand, Gujarat. “It was almost five or six years back when we decided to develop it into a script.”

“We connected to a life of a surrogate because we write something and we give it away to somebody. So we realised that this is a story that resonates with us and then when we went on to research. Seeing the commercial surrogates, the way things function over there, like we saw 60 women sitting in one room in a surrogacy house, we knew wanted this story to be our directorial debut. This was surely going to be one of the first three films we make because our visualisation for this story is completely set,” Garima said.

Hindi films have earlier only “flirted” with the idea of surrogacy, said Siddharth. Films like FilhaalChori Chori Chupke Chupke, didn’t “really get married to the idea of commercial surrogacy”, he said.

“The actual process of surrogacy is very different from what we’ve seen in Hindi films. There is a contract in place, just like a business deal. That is the side we want to explore with Dukaan. When we announced the subject in 2018, there were other films that were announced after that taking the idea of surrogacy that we floated by releasing a poster. A couple of films that are on the verge of releasing now have been conceptualised on the same background.”

While Dukaan is set for a 2022 release, Kriti Sanon’s upcoming film Mimi, which is a remake of the Marathi film Mala Aai Vhhaychy! based on surrogacy, is supposed to release this year.

The duo are unfazed by the comparison between both the films.


“If two Bhagat Singh films can release on the same day, then why not two films on surrogacy? Having said that, Dukaan and Mimi are two completely different films because the latter is a remake of a Marathi film and Dukaan is coming out of the real world. We don’t bother about clashes because both these films will open up a new genre. Today there are two based on surrogacy, tomorrow it will be 20. It’s the story that matters, that’s all,” said Siddharth.

Explaining why they didn’t cast an established actor in their film, they said: “Sometimes when the concept is bigger than the star, the name of the star doesn’t matter. And we feel we can make stars through stories,” said Siddharth.

If the content is good, there’s no need to rely on the name of a star, said Garima.

Monika Panwar, who featured in the Netflix crime drama series Jamtara – Sabka Number Ayega, has been cast in the lead role of Dukaan.

However, they said they faced several problems during the casting. “Having worked in films which had A-list actors, we didn’t realise how difficult it would be to cast for a female-oriented film like this. Female actors did not want to be seen pregnant on screen as it is not glamorous,” said Siddharth.

“We feel very strongly that there are hardly any roles written for women in some films. But when we set out looking for an actor for another film that we were making, the questions we faced from some of the female actors were like ‘who’s the male lead?’ This needs to change in the industry. Some would rather choose a script where she is seen in five scenes with a bigger name male actor than a script that is completely female-oriented,” Garima said.

Selling the film to a producer was another challenge, said Garima.

“Whichever producer we took this film to, it got a lukewarm response. We were told that there’s no way you can work on a film with this girl. Unfortunately, no one cared that she was from the National School of Drama, as all the producers wanted someone who has come out genetically from a star lineage,” she said.

However, they said they were lucky with Saale Aashiq, which got picked up by Sony Pictures India. “It is very brave of the production house to back such a subject because it is not a routine cliché film. They are also on the same page with us wherein we all know that this will be an experimental film but it is a story that needs to be told,” said Siddharth.

Siddharth and Garima rose to fame as writers and lyricists in films like Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, Bajirao Mastani, Padmaavat, Toilet Ek Prem Katha, and more recently Kabir Singh.


Asked whether they were affected by the backlash that Kabir Singh received, they said they were aware of the problems in the story but could not do much about it.

“In the end, it was Sandeep Reddy Vanga’s story, his screenplay and we just did the dialogue on it. There was only so much that one could have done to tell him not to do it in a certain way but we respect the fact that he went ahead and did what he wanted to,” said Garima.