What attracted you to Bullett Raja?
I am paying homage to the cinema of the ’70s and early ’80s. I was a great admirer of Vijay Anand and Raj Khosla alongside world cinema. I grew up in Allahabad and we would hear stories about quirky gangsters. Bullett Raja is a mixture of all those colourful characters. I have never made a film of this scale before. For Saif (Ali Khan) and me, this is a first.
What prompted you to cast Saif as a small-town gangster?
For an actor who has done something in this space, this role wouldn’t have been as exciting as it is for Saif. He commands a certain respect at the box office and I have retained that charming and naughty image of Saif. I didn’t have great difficulty in transforming him. What I was more worried about was his body language and gestures, because he is a very urban guy in the way he will hold the glass or put his hand inside the pocket. I had to check that.
Sonakshi Sinha and Saif make for an unusual pair...
Sonakshi is playing a struggling actor, who leaves Kolkata for Lucknow to be part of a film funded by a big businessman. She is at the wrong place at the wrong time. She has a meaty role and pacifies an impulsive Saif. They look good together.
This year marks your decade as a film director. What do you feel when you look back?
Today, I can say it has been rewarding. But I had to go through a lot of ups and downs. I am still struggling.
Have things become a lot easier after Paan Singh Tomar won the National Award?
It is easy to meet an actor for a narration now. In Bollywood, everything is looked at with a commercial eye. But cinema is art; and the struggle to balance these two aspects of filmmaking will always be there. You have to try and convince the producers that your script is a viable project.
Has the acting bug bitten you again after Gangs Of Wasseypur?
I will never work towards making a career in acting. When I act, it’s not because of the role or money. If a friend offers a role with seven-eight days work, I do it. In Anurag’s (Kashyap) show, my lure was sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan.
You are making Bullett Raja and Revolver Rani simultaneously. Will the audiences accept two similar sounding films?
When the Revolver Rani poster comes out, they will know the two films are different. Revolver Rani is more whacky. Bullett Raja is more macho. Things become interesting when the gender changes, women react to a situation differently than men.
Bollywood News Service