Producer Boxwala travelled tp MIami to convince the actor about the film
On the sets of Shershaah
It's 'Throwback Thursday' time and today we have veteran producer Shabbir Boxwala sharing the fascinating story of how Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani came on board for 'Shershaah.' The film that was a tribute to Captain Vikram Batra who was martyred in Kargil War, is also the project where Sidharth and Kiara's real life love story started.
Boxwala told mid-day.com, "A friend had approached me with the story of Vikram Batra and that's how I started my research. Vikram's story was so fascinating- it was a film in itself. From twin brothers to his bravery since childhood, when he got the best opportunity of his life to join the Merchant navy he chose to join the Army. The valour he displayed in Kargil was outstanding and his love story with Dimple was so unique and emotional. I wanted to tell his story to the world although he was already well known in the North, he was already a hero there, having been part of the first televised war."
However, bringing the film to life was a long, tedious journey. Producer Boxwala recalls it all started with a text message to Vishal Batra, Vikram's brother. "I found Vishal's number and told him what I had in mind for this film. Vishal invited me to Chandigarh to discuss the project and by then I had already visualised the film because I was ready with my research. The meeting was better than I expected and Vishal was convinced but asked me to meet his parents in Palampur. I consider myself lucky because other people had approached the family too but they gave me the rights to Vikram's story."
Now that he had the rights in hand, the next question was who would play Vikram Batra? Sidharth was going through a rough patch in his career when 'Shershaah' turned things around for him "I had been watching Sidharth since his debut and always liked his work. Having worked with Rajiv Rai, though he had big stars he would cast upcoming actors who suited the part and that's something I believe in too. Vikram's family said their son looked like Akshay Kumar and I said I have someone who I believe has the range of Akshay-Sidharth. After a brief meeting with Sidharth at a Mumbai 5-star, my next step was to make Vikram's family meet him. When Vishal and his dad saw Sidharth they said 'Yeh toh Vikram jaisa lagta hai.' By then Sidharth had flown to Miami for a month to shoot for 'A Gentleman' I went there to discuss the project and he was convinced, promising that 'we will work things out.' Soon enough Karan (Johar) called me up and said he wanted to do the film along with me."
Boxwala says that with Sidharth and Karan on board everything fell into place with director Vishnuvardhan and leading lady Kiara joining the team. The producer adds that the team invested a lot of time in research as they didn't want to invite the wrath of Army personnel by depicting them inaccurately. He says, "Vishal introduced us to each and every officer who worked with Vikram. The person instrumental in this was commanding officer Yogesh Kumar Joshi, who helped us depict everything accurately and he was also very emotional about this story. The shoot began with him giving the mahurat clap in Chandigarh, despite his busy schedule."
Opening up about other unexpected challenges he shared, "Another major setback was when we landed in Kashmir to shoot, article 370 was announced. Suddenly we couldn't travel through Srinagar and everything had to be routed through Ladakh. YK Joshi assured me the shoot would take place despite the panicky situation and we completed the film."