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Sharpening that warrior instinct

Updated on: 06 March,2024 07:05 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mohar Basu |

Yodha directors Sagar and Pushkar break down how Sidharth prepped for six months, perfecting knife-fight and hand-to-hand combat sequences in confined spaces, for the hijack thriller

Sharpening that warrior instinct

A still from the film

Sidharth Malhotra has forged a bond with action movies after Shershaah (2021). It’s not surprising then that he followed up the war drama with Mission Majnu (2023), Indian Police Force and now, Yodha. But the upcoming hijack thriller, backed by Karan Johar, is worlds apart from the actor-filmmaker’s last collaboration, Shershaah. The leading man says, “Yodha is fictitious whereas Shershaah was based on a real-life war hero. Yodha’s plot hinges on a stressful situation—who do you save, yourself or your countrymen? It delves into the quick-thinking mind of soldiers, their discipline and selflessness. The men in uniform have a protective instinct, and that spirit is captured in the film.”   
Debutant director duo Sagar Ambre and Pushkar Ojha’s thriller—also starring Raashii Khanna and Disha Patani—showcases how a suspended officer of the special unit, Yodha Task Force, takes on a group of hijackers. Considering a chunk of Yodha is set inside an aircraft, Ojha says the action required months of meticulous planning. “We storyboarded the idea to the finest detail. Then, a fight choreographer sat with us and added to it. When Sidharth entered the scene, he first did the action on a mock set,” he recalls.

Pushkar Ojha and Sagar AmbrePushkar Ojha and Sagar Ambre

Before arriving on the set, Malhotra underwent a six-month prep. Action choreographer Craig Macrae, who orchestrated the fight sequences in Pathaan (2023) and Jawan (2023), designed set-pieces that involved knife techniques and hand-to-hand combat, which could be pulled off in tight spaces. Considering this genre is his forte, the actor proved to be a quick learner. In addition, he committed himself to a rigorous fitness regimen and diet plan to adopt a lithe frame. Ojha adds, “The shoot was executed with the action director after six months of prepping to the T. Safety is a must. If the process is followed correctly, the scene can be shot without any glitches. Sidharth put in way too many hours to get it right. The sequences look slick because he was fully familiar with it. The action pieces look great on screen.” 

But a film can’t rely solely on action. The director duo was aware that the story’s emotional hook has to be equally strong. Co-director Ambre says they crafted Malhotra’s character Arun as a family man. “Arun is a true soldier. He has an ailing mother, a loving wife and is a family man, but still, the nation comes first for him. When his patriotism is questioned, something changes in him.”

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