Director Abhinav Kashyap was deemed to be a master of contemporary commercial when Salman Khan’s Dabangg hit the theaters. Despite the much publicized fall out with Khan brother over the hit film’s sequel, the director is known to be a man who holds his ground well. He is back with another unique screen outing, Ranbir Kapoor’s Besharam.
Koimoi joins the director on a conversation about the film, his hero Ranbir Kapoor and his equation with Salman Khan!
How did you come up with the idea of Besharam?
A friend of mine, Rajeev Barnwal once narrated to me the story of a man who invests all his life’s earnings to buy a car. That very day the car gets stolen and ever since every time he finds a similar looking car on the road he follows it. There were good shades in the story and I suggested to Rahul that this could be the recipe for a great film. We began co-writing it and here we are with the film.
Why did you cast Ranbir Kapoor in the film?
Oh he has been Besharam to the core ever since he dropped the towel in his first film. There could have no better casting for the film.
But Ranbir is quite a reserved and reticent man, how could he rise to the needs of this film?
Viewers don’t know what he really is like. He isn’t shy, at least not perceived to be one. Given the butt show in his first film, and then his relationships be it with Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif or whatever name media comes up with, he has quite a ‘Besharam’ image. Moreover I wanted a young actor for the film and among the newer one, he indeed is the best of the lot.
How did Pallavi Sharda happen to Besharam?
Indeed any top actress could have been cast for this film. But most leading ladies are booked with innumerable projects, at least 5 a year. Ranbir was already cast for the film and he was going to begin working with my bhaisahab – Anurag Kashyap in Bombay Velvet. However, a particular schedule of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani was postponed due to a landslide in Manali. The dates were very wobbly and Anurag suggested if I am ready, I go forward with my film first. We auditioned a couple of actresses and Pallavi caught my attention with her work.
There were reports in the media that Ranbir wanted Katrina to be cast opposite him…
Yes I read the same! But Ranbir has never involved himself in casting. People here are extremely happy with Pallavi’s work. Ranbir has never mentioned a co-actor of his choice.
You have worked with Salman too before and now Ranbir. How are they different from each other?
They are very different from each other. Salman used to come to sets late. Shooting can never begin before 12 with him. Ranbir is more timely and knows exactly what to do. Salman used to revel in spontaneity. He used to go in front of the camera and do his shot, and the rest of the unit would arrange accordingly. Ranbir is way more meticulous. He exactly knows what to do and how to go about. He rehearses his scenes and briefs the unit about the scene. There is greater detailing in his work.
So which of them would suit you better?
Ranbir, anyday. I find my work philosophy more in sync with his and working with him has been very smooth.
What is your current quotient with Salman Khan?
It is nothing. I have no equation with Salman Khan. He is not a friend, was never a friend. I had a great formal work relationship with him which formulated well in Dabangg. I am aware that there are many reports in the media about clashes and animosities but there are absolutely none. I shared a good rapport with Arbaaz Khan but the last we exchanged messages was after the release of Dabangg 2 when I congratulated them.
How did you loop in the Kapoor family together?
I read the script. These were characters all three of them had never done before. Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor had never played cops before. And it was important for me to package the film in an engaging manner, and bringing in these people who are such seasoned actors happened to evoke curiosity in the audiences which is working in the film’s favor.
How was Rishi Kapoor on the sets?
Arey mujhe aur Ranbir ko poora dho daaltey they. That’s how Rishi Kapoor is like. When we were shooting together, Ranbir slipped into the role of an assistant director which made my work easier because he knows his father’s secrets too well.
Commercial cinema these days works on formulaic ideas and lazy writing. What’s your take on that?
In the end, if the story is not appealing enough no formula can save the film! It is important to deliver a good content with an appealing packaging. If the film has no potential, it can never work!
You came up with a larger than life character of Chulbul Pandey. Is Babli any similar?
I don’t think Chulbul was larger than life. It was a very ordinary story and a very ordinary character. If you are talking of the action, then it is a fantasy world where action is used metaphorically. The thrashing and the songs is very synonymous with Bollywood entertainment!
What is the reference point of your characters?
Me. I grew up in Benaras and all through my life, I have met really interesting people and characters, tinges of which I add to my characters! My personal experience is where my characters come from.
Lastly, you seem to be very impressed with Ranbir. So can we expect yet another film from the two of you?
Most definitely. He will indeed be my first choice for any next film I think of. It was brilliant working with him. He is such an easy person to work with. And that is why directors who work with him once can’t seem to let him go. Lambi line hai uske liye. There is Anurag Basu, then my brother, then Imtiaz Ali, then Ayan Mukherji is in the line. I hope I am the next one in the queue. Working with him will be once in 3 year cycle for me! He is getting busier day by day.
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