After films like Aankhen, Waqt, Namaste London, Vipul Shah is back as a director with Namaste England starring Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra in lead. The film, which follows a template similar to Namaste London is slated to hit the big screen on 19th October 2018. Ahead of the film release, Director Vipul Shah spoke to us about the film, what made him take an 8-year break from direction, the future of Indian Cinema, why Akshay Kumar is not a part of this film, and a lot more.
What made you come up with a film that forms a part of the ‘Namaste’ Franchise?
The story of any film needs to have some deep concept. In this film there are two or three very interesting ideas that we got to write and explore. One of the key principals of this film is how far are you ready to travel for your love. In today’s time, people look at love very different from say, 25 years back. I think this was a very good idea to write my story with and another thing is that if a female decides something, will the male follow? How many men are ready to follow a female’s dream. These are the two interesting ideas that we wanted to write in the form of story and eventually the characters got places in Punjab and England. We realized that the world is very similar to Namaste London and hence called this film Namaste England.
But wasn’t the film initially titled Namaste Canada?
Yes, the film was titled Namaste Canada and I wanted to place the film in Canada so that people don’t compare it with Namaste London, but I didn’t find Canada the right location for the film, so we zeroed down to England.
Akshay Kumar was the first choice for this film. What went wrong?
Nothing went wrong. Akshay and I were committed to do this film, but the dates were not working out. Akshay had a very jam-packed diary so he told me to go ahead and work with some other actor, so I went to Arjun Kapoor. He knew that I was going to make this film with Akshay, but now I am not, so would you like to listen to the script. He heard the script, he instantly agreed to come on board. Parineeti was there since the time I had planned to make this film with Akshay.
Apart from the romance, the USP of Namaste London was the humour and going by the trailer, this film seems to be an intense love story…..
The trailer doesn’t give you the real picture of the film, we have shown just one part of the film in the trailer. Though the trailer has some humour, there is a lot more in the film. Audience will be surprised to see that the film has so many twists and turns which we have not shown in the trailer deliberately.
Namaste London is considered as one of Himesh Reshammiya’s best music album. Any reason why he wasn’t signed on as a music director for this film?
I wanted my music director to give a lot of time and Himesh is a big star. He has a lot of commitments and it would have been difficult for him to allot so much time on the music of this film, which is the reason why I went ahead with Manan Shah. To expect Himesh to give one year on this film was unrealistic. The music of Namaste England is doing very well, with Tere Liye finding a place at the top of all charts. Even Bhare Bazaar is a big hit. So people’s love for the music is visible and in that sense it is a right decision on my part.
This film marks your return to direction after 8 years. What was the reason for such a long break?
In 2009 – 2010, there was this digital world explosion. The language of cinema started changing, so I decided to understand and learn it and see if I could incorporate it in my cinema. Apart from that, I also got busy with film production. It was not planned, but it has been a long gap but I hope I direct films frequently from hereon.
Your relationship with Akshay Kumar goes long back in the early 2000’s when you casted him in films totally against his image of being an action or comic star. How would you define his growth as an actor?
I think Akshay Kumar is one of the most intelligent human being and he is one of the most unassuming actors. I used to love his performances even back then, but people never considered him as a great actor. Today, people consider Akshay as an all-round actor who can do action, drama, humour, romance – anything. I used to always feel that Akshay was an all-round actor, and it is just a matter of people realizing it later than when I did. He is one of the best we have in the industry.
Do you think people didn’t respect him as an actor much because he associated himself with action and comedy films?
Comedy and Action are not review friendly genre. Reviewers don’t find this genre particularly exciting. Generally, action or comedy film will get very average rating because they don’t match up to the reviewers’ intellect and usually they are highly intellectual people. So for them, action or comedy doesn’t work as a genre. As a result of that, the overall respect for the genre and ones doing such films goes down.
Do you think this is the best phase of Hindi film industry?
I think it is a very good phase of Indian cinema where more and more experiment are getting accepted. It is a great time. While we are on the subject, let me also add that Namaste England is not a simple love story and there is much more to it.
Do you think the concept of stardom will ever fade in a country like India just the way it has faded in the West?
We are people who believe in idol worshipping. We have cricketers and actors who become god. We have temples built in the names of actor, so we believe in idol worshipping. Our approach to heroes is going to be very different from what happens in the western world. While I am sure that content will become far more powerful and dominant, but star power will not go away that easily.
What is your take on the digital world. Do you take digital mediums like Netflix and Amazon as threat to cinema?
I think Digital World is taking our cinema to places where we could never reach till date. If you are sitting in Cuba, you sign into Netflix and watch Hindi Films. So 5 years down the lane, the audience in Cuba would get accustomed to watch our cinema. Our films may become bigger than what they are due to digital world. To give you an example, in China, Aamir Khan is arguably a bigger star than Jackie Chan, so that is the potential that Indian Cinema has across the globe. Aamir has unlocked the Chinese market for us, and I am sure many more countries shall follow. Digital medium will only help us increase the reach and our footprint but is not a threat to Cinema.
What next after Namaste England? Is Force 3 on cards?
I may not do Force 3 because I am not enjoying doing back to back action films but I will happily let John Abraham take the franchise forward. Apart from Commando 3, there is no film in pipeline for us.