Mumbai, Mar 21 (PTI) "Chehre" producer Anand Pandit says the team steered clear of mentioning Rhea Chakraborty's name in the upcoming film until its trailer launch as they wanted to give the actor some space from public scrutiny.
The omission of Chakraborty's name from the cast had raised some eyebrows when the film's release date was announced earlier this year, but Pandit said it was not because they were worried about any backlash.
The 28-year-old actor found herself in the middle of a storm when she was arrested last September by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in connection with its probe into the drugs angle related to the case of death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput, her boyfriend.
Chakraborty was subjected to a scathing social media trial -- from death threats to constant vilification of her family -- which many of her colleagues from the industry also criticised.
She is set to return to screen with the upcoming thriller "Chehre", also starring Amitabh Bachchan and Emraan Hashmi.
When the film's release date was revealed in February, the makers had avoided naming Chakraborty in the promotional materials, with the actor not even being tagged by any of the cast members during the announcement.
"I wasn't worried about backlash at all, I wanted to give space to her. The poor girl has gone through so much turmoil in her life. I didn't want to give it back to her, by adding her name," Pandit told PTI in an interview.
"But when she was comfortable, I told her during trailer (launch), we will start promoting your name and visuals," the producer said.
The trailer of "Chehre", directed by Rumy Jafry, featured Chakraborty in a fleeting appearance, thus quashing reports that her role in the film had been chopped off.
Subsequently, she was also tagged on social media by the cast and the makers when the trailer was released last week.
When rumours were rife that the team had axed Chakraborty's role or have replaced her, Pandit said he was unaffected.
"My focus was on my film. There are eight artistes, starting from Mr Bachchan to Emraan. My focus was on my lead(s). I wasn't worried about any other controversy about other artistes.
"My conscience was clear that Rhea is there in the film and will continue to remain, so there was no point answering to speculations," he added.
Annu Kapoor, Krystle D'Souza, Drithiman Chatterjee, Raghubir Yadav and Siddhanth Kapoor also star in the mystery-thriller, backed by Anand Pandit Motion Pictures and Saraswati Entertainment Private Limited.
The film was earlier scheduled to be released in July 2020 but was pushed due to the coronavirus pandemic. "Chehre" is now gearing up to open in theatres on April 9.
April will be a packed month for Pandit, whose two other productions also release the same weekend.
His Abhishek Bachchan-starrer "The Big Bull", is heading to Disney+ Hotstar VIP to release on April 8, while his Marathi film "Well Done Baby" will premiere on April 9 on Amazon Prime Video.
Pandit said he always wanted a theatrical release for "Chehre", but the situation was different with "The Big Bull", which is reportedly based on stockbroker Harshad Mehta's story.
"Ajay Devgn and I are jointly producing the film. Because Ajay has a contract with Disney, they wanted some content for their platform. They requested him to give two-three films.
"So he gave one of his other films to them and we thought we can give 'The Big Bull' too. As far as 'Chehre' was concerned, I was committed to bring it only on the big screen."
Directed by Kookie Gulati, "The Big Bull" is part of the Disney+ Hotstar Multiplex slate, which was announced last year. It also includes Devgn-starrer "Bhuj: The Pride of India".
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