Leading man Hrikhik Roshan and Sanjay Gupta, director of Kaabil- a romantic action thriller, in
conversation with Team Box Office India.
(BOI): The second trailer has more action and intrigue than the first. What was the idea behind releasing a second trailer?
Sanjay Gupta (SG): Nothing specific, as such. We released the first trailer in October and since there was a long gap between that and the release of the film, we felt it was time to come out with a second trailer. So, yes, it was a marketing decision and I am glad the second trailer is being appreciated much more than the first trailer; otherwise, it wouldn’t have served its purpose. The whole point was to up the intrigue factor.
Hrithik Roshan (HR): Everyone loved the first trailer and I hope they appreciate the second one even more.
BOI: What was the thought while cutting the trailers? How do you decide which scenes should be incorporated in first trailer and the second?
SG: With the first trailer, we needed a hook, which is a very important tool when you make a thriller. So the first trailer had to strike the right chord with the audience. We were discussing the pros and cons if the first trailer, when someone said, ‘You have made such a brilliant first trailer, are you sure you don’t want to come out with a second trailer?’ Until when the same people saw it and felt it was a good decision.
BOI: What works in this actor-director team, the Sanjay and Hrithik team?
HR: I think the number one will be… and it’s not just about Sanjay and me but even my dad. We have entered this venture with a lot of humility. We are very conscious that this is a small film with a very large heart. All of us needed to increase the largeness of our hearts to be able to make this film. That’s what I appreciate about everyone working in the film. Everyone came with a humble desire to do something special and that’s what has made Kaabil what it is.
BOI: How difficult or easy was it to come up with the title of the film?
SG: We were brainstorming on the name the film. I had another title in mind but the moment we knew Rakeshji (Roshan) was on board, I knew the title would have to start with ‘K’. It evolved very organically. We were sitting around and discussing a line and the word ‘kaabil’ came up and we said ‘yes’.
HR: It came from the dialogue in the script. I think there was a line from which Dad picked up the word and said, ‘Let’s call it Kaabil.’
SG: It all happened very naturally, it was an organic process. It’s such a wonderful title that I am surprised no one thought of it for so many years.
HR: But for us, it was so apt. It is the most incredible title for a film like this.
BOI: What was your instinctive reaction when you heard the script was about a blind man’s revenge saga?
HR: When I heard the script, I just knew in my bones that I had to do this film. If you ask Sanjay, after he finished the narration, it just took me only seconds to shake hands and say, ‘I am on, this is the film we are doing.’ It impacted me emotionally.
BOI: And what was Rakesh sir’s reaction?
SG: I got a call from Rakeshji and he asked me, ‘What have you narrated?’ That’s because he didn’t know about this one. Just before I started on Jazbaa, I spent two months with Rakeshji, talking about other ideas. I used to call these sessions my ‘tuition classes’ because I used to take back so much after meeting for just an hour.
Then he said to me, ‘You narrated something to Hrithik?’ So I narrated the script to him, and he said, ‘I am making it.’ I always joke with people, that filmmaking is not rocket science, it’s not all that complicated. But, in this case, it was truly like that and it involved a lot of hard work.
BOI: In our industry, we say ‘films don’t fail, budgets fail’. And you guys just mentioned that this is not a big-budget film. Was it hard to work around the budget or was it a cakewalk?
SG: I have a certain style of working, where I cannot sit on a scene and take days to shoot it.
HR: Sanjay is a very budget-friendly director. His vision is very precise; he doesn’t waste time shooting scenes that won’t make it to the final cut on the edit table. He knows what he wants and does just that.
SG: (Laughs) As a matter of fact, this is the longest time I have ever taken to shoot a film. When I started making the film, I told him, very pompously, ‘Sir, yeh film main 45 days mein kar lunga.’ He said, ‘No take 90 days.’ This was the first time my producer doubled the length of my budget. He said, ‘Take your time but dil se banao.’
HR: It’s my quickest film. He promised me 70 days and he completed my work in 60 days.
SG: Precisely on the 60th day.
HR: On the 60th day, my work was over… 60 days for a film. It proves that people love wasting time. In all the films I have done, I realise that all of that could have been done much faster. Everyone is quick and on the edge, like Sanjay, and with a producer like Dad, it is possible not to overshoot budgets.
BOI: Sanjay’s films definitely have good music but the dialogue is brilliant too.
HR: The dialogue in this film is tremendous. It is incredible. But those are not lines that are…
SG: (Cuts in) …ones I am known for. They are very real.
HR: Very subtle. You must have watched this in the promos. You just have to say the lines, there is no aggression. There is no mein hero hu aur yeh hero ki line hai toh mein aise boluga. It has been incorporated into the narrative very organically. They are said with a certain coldness and this has an impact on the character. There is nothing dramatic about these lines and the way they are delivered. The way they have been interpreted and expressed is very new. The same lines could have been said in a heroic way, in a loud way, but that’s what makes Kaabil so special.
BOI: We have seen you doing action before. Was this more difficult or challenging than before as you play a visually impaired character?
HR: Yes, it was very difficult to portray a blind mind. Sometimes, I was afraid of falling and hurting myself because there was this time I had to jump. Usually, all the important points are marked… the spot from where you have to jump and the spot where you have to land… beech mein there is a big hole. If my character wasn’t blind, I would have run, kept my eye on the mark and then landed on the right mark.
But since I was playing a blind guy, I had to keep my head up and I didn’t know where I was going to land or what I was doing. I wanted to show that I was guided purely by instinct. I had to count my steps and then jump. So, for instance, four steps ke baad I had to jump. If the fourth step’s distance is not right, my foot would have landed in a ditch and I could have broken a bone.
It was very difficult and when someone threw a punch my way, I had to deflect it or not react at all. That was very difficult because the brain automatically reacts and involuntary muscles make your eyes flinch. It was difficult to control that and it took a lot of practice and precision.
BOI: What was the experience like while shooting Kaabil and having Rakesh sir as a producer?
SG: It was by far the most wonderful experience I have ever had… the sheer joy, the satisfaction, the camaraderie and team work, right from Rakeshji, to the writer of the film, to the technicians, to the actors… everybody has given their best and everybody was at the top of their game. And that is your victory. When you are directing a film, you have to get your team to feel that it is their baby as much as it is yours. And I am not one of those people who believe that the director is the captain of the ship.
It’s the team that puts it together. In that sense, it has truly been a blessing.
BOI: The film is also being released in Tamil and Telugu. Is there a specific marketing plan for those languages?
HR: That’s a good question for Dad. These calls are taken by Dad and he knows more about the release plan.
SG: Right now, we are completely immersed in finishing the film, giving it the right finishing touches. We are also packaging the music, mixing and everything.
HR: Dad generally has done that for all his films. And they have done well. So the South is a market that Dad is very interested in. It’s always given him returns. And we have always got a lot of love for our films. All my Filmkraft films have done extremely well in the South.
BOI: What about overseas markets? What kind of release will the film have there?
SG: It’s a huge release.
HR: It is being released by B4U Movies. They are really big when they come out all guns blazing. Like the chain of cinemas they have booked in Dubai. They have gone out of their way and booked non-traditional cinema chains. They have done a fabulous job.
BOI: Creatively, how much was (Rakesh Roshan) sir involved in the film?
SG: He was completely involved. He was involved as a writer to begin with, and after that too, he used to get involved. Let me put it this way… If I were to do another film without Rakeshji, it would be like a child going out without a parent.
SG: There’s a very strong shield of security and it is tremendous. He was always there and that was the amazing part.
BOI: Having worked with Hrithik on this film, can you tell us what kind of director he would make?
SG: My personal opinion is that superstars should stay actors. You know, he could do two films a year
as an actor, whereas he could do one film in three years as a director.