Now that Romeo Akbar Walter has released, it is a known fact that the film’s plot has a major part of the narrative in Pakistan. Since the film couldn’t be shot in Pakistan for obvious reasons, filmmaker Robby Grewal chose the cities of Gujarat to fill in for the country.
“We wanted to step away from the usual locations that are chosen in North of India and then presented as Pakistan. We opted for these cities in Gujarat that had been unexplored. These are the places that are predominantly Muslim. These turned out to be fantastic locations as there are hardly any malls or multiplexes. It worked for us since the film is set in 1971 and the old world look of these locations allowed a perfect milieu and ambience for us. As a result, the basic texture of the film turned out to be very authentic,” says Robbie.
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All of this also meant that for the Gujarati crowd out there which hadn’t really been exposed to Bollywood stars, John Abraham and Mouni Roy seemed like God sent.
“They had seen them on the big screen and television, and now to see them in flesh and blood was something unimaginable for them,” smiles Robby, “Leave aside the stars, they hadn’t even seen any kind of film shooting before.”
As a result, the production team had to be on their toes whenever John or Mouni stepped out in real locations.
“See in Mumbai when there is a shooting happening then people generally move away as they have seen it all so many times, may be with some other actors. However out there in those Gujarat cities there was this whole novelty factor. When they saw John and Mouni, it was this huge ‘oh my God’ moment for them. John is this major star and then Mouni too is a household name, courtesy her several television appearances. People out there were totally awed by seeing stars amidst them.”
With the film now running in theaters, one just waits to see how inhabitants of Gujarat watch these stars as well as their own backyard out there on the big screen.