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Vinod Rawat’s Bold Decision: Declining Hrithik Roshan’s Financial Aid for Pushtaini

Launching a directorial debut is challenging enough, but when your project deviates from conventional Bollywood norms, expect a rocky road ahead. Vinod Rawat, the seasoned acting coach of Bollywood superstar Hrithik Roshan, knows this all too well. Determined and against all odds, Rawat was resolute that Pushtaini—a compelling narrative of an aspiring actor in Mumbai who undertakes a transformative journey back to his roots in Uttarakhand—was going to see the light of day.

“When I pitched the script to people around, they didn’t react positively. I understand it, because Pushtaini doesn’t have the familiar tropes of a Hindi film,” Rawat, who also co-wrote the script, recalls. The unconventional plotline failed to resonate with potential producers and financiers who were more accustomed to mainstream Bollywood elements.

Facing a slew of rejections, Rawat decided to take matters into his own hands. In 2020, he traveled to Uttarakhand, where he began shooting with the limited resources available. His journey wasn’t solitary; he found a band of like-minded collaborators who shared his vision. One of his key supporters was Mitesh Mirchandani, the Director of Photography. “Mitesh said, ‘Tell me the camera and lenses you want, you will have it for free.’ There were a lot of people who helped me,” Rawat recounts.

Amid his battle against financial constraints, Rawat had a solid pillar of support in Hrithik Roshan. The two share a working history dating back to the film Kaabil (2017), solidifying their professional rapport over the years. Roshan did not merely support Pushtaini verbally; he came on board as the presenter and even offered substantial financial assistance when Rawat ran short of funds.

However, in a striking move, Rawat declined the superstar’s financial help. “I thought accepting that would be taking an easy way out. I have a feeling that had I taken the support, this film wouldn’t have turned out the way it has because then there’d be the pressure of a name associated with Pushtaini. Hrithik would tell me, ‘Do what you want to.’ But it would [play] at the back of my mind,” Rawat explains.

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Instead, Vinod opted for a more arduous path, which he believes preserved the film’s authenticity and integrity. He felt that any financial entanglement with a megastar like Hrithik would inadvertently affect his creative liberty. The implicit pressure and the lure of conforming to more commercial aspects could have diluted the essence of Pushtaini.

Today, Roshan is impressed by and proud of how the film turned out. He is actively endorsing it and was deeply involved, especially in the preparation stages. “Hrithik made me cut the trailer at least 12 times. I was wondering, ‘Why is he spending so much time on it?’ But I realize it’s a learning experience,” Rawat shares, mixing amusement with gratitude.

While Hrithik’s insistence on multiple edits of the trailer initially puzzled Rawat, he now appreciates it as a learning curve. Hrithik, leveraging his vast industry experience, provided invaluable feedback that has undoubtedly sharpened the film’s presentation.

Pushtaini’s journey from script to screen is a testament to Rawat’s unwavering dedication and passion. It underscores the significance of staying true to one’s narrative, however non-commercial it might seem. The support Rawat received—in both creative and logistical terms—from friends and industry colleagues like Mitesh Mirchandani was invaluable. Their contributions were not just material but also served as morale boosters for Rawat.

As the movie gears up for its release, it stands as a beacon of hope for aspiring filmmakers who dream of producing content that breaks away from the conventional mold. It is a powerful reminder that perseverance, coupled with a committed support system, can turn even the most challenging projects into reality. Rawat’s refusal to opt for the easier path, despite the allure and the convenience it promised, has safeguarded the very ethos of Pushtaini.

The endorsement of Hrithik Roshan, a stalwart in the industry, further amplifies the film’s reach and recognition. Yet, it is Rawat’s determination and belief in his vision that form the core of this remarkable journey. Pushtaini is more than just a film; it’s a narrative of an artist’s resolve to remain authentic to his artistry against all odds.