Exploring new boundaries
Directed by Milan Luthria, Baadshaho takes us to the emergency era of 1975, when there was political unrest in the country. The story revolves around a group of thugs who decide to loot the gold confiscated from Rani Gitanjali Devi of Rajasthan.
In a free-wheeling conversation with Syeda Eba, the star cast and the director of Baadshaho talk about their experiences of working in a multi-starrer, the roles that they play and much more. Excerpts...
As an actor, do you feel comfortable doing a multi-starrer?
Ajay: I don't understand why people are afraid of working in a multi-starrer. In fact, it is a lot more fun. There are so many people around you on the sets that make the shooting experience even more interesting. I feel that those who refuse to be a part of multi-starrer are insecure and bad performers. I don't know about others but whenever I have done a multi-starrer, my character has always stood out. So, I feel quite secure about it.
Emraan: I think I have to be comfortable before making a decision to do any kind of movie. But to the question about whether I am concerned about doing a multi-starrer, I would say yes. Every actor does have a concern because when you work with six other actors, it requires you to give a bit of extra time and energy to play your character so as to get noticed and shine in a unique way. But at the same time, I won't say that I am insecure about it. I feel that a multi-starrer works because of the contribution done by each and every character. If you take any of the characters away, the film will fall apart.
Ileana: I would call myself a bit selfish as I always wanted to play the leading lady in a film (laughs). But the fact of the time is I equally loved working in a multi-starrer. In a way, it's better as the responsibility gets divided among so many actors. You don't have to feel that intense pressure while working. Also, as Ajay mentioned, it makes working in the film a lot more enjoyable.
How did the idea of making Baadshaho pop-up?
Milan Luthria (director): The idea came to me from a friend of mine. Ajay and I were shooting for 'Kacche Dhaage' when a friend told us about the situations that prevailed in the country during the time of emergency. That's how we got to know about the fact that during the emergency, the royal family's wealth was confiscated. The gold, which was concealed from the eyes of the government, was taken away by the military. But nobody knew where it went. The story of this film has been with me for the last 15 years. After doing three period films consecutively, I wanted to try my hand in a different genre but this story asked us to be made. Indeed stories do that. They catch hold of you. Moreover, the international market, from the success of 'Intruders' to the 'Game of Thrones', is speaking of the trend and the kind of drama people prefer to watch as of now. The film might appear to you as an action thriller but it has a lot more to it.
A song by Kabir and the re-created Ghazal of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan is garnering a lot of buzz for the movie. Is there any relevance of putting these two songs?
Milan: There is no such relevance. I just really loved the songs and they seemed appropriate enough to fit in the film owing to the time period in which the plot is set. I cannot give modern music to the film. Though I don't believe in the forceful keeping of the songs when it is not making any sense but I strongly feel that Indians love to enjoy good music. It's a part of our culture. So, if I have a good taste in music, what's the problem in sharing it with the audience? Perhaps, someday I will make a movie with no songs but I would make sure to give it a good background score at least considering the fact that good music plays a major role in uplifting the entire mood. Hence, there is no harm in using music for gaining commercial benefits.
What is the most interesting fact about the film?
Ajay: I think it is the characters that make the movie interesting. All the characters in Baadshaho are grey shades which add another dimension to the story. For example, my character is supposed to be very loyal but situations demand him to behave differently.
How is the chemistry between Ajay-Ileana and Emran-Isha?
Ileana: Geetanjali (my role) as a character is very complicated. She has many layers. Ajay comes in her life to introduce her to the royal land, who later turns out to be a massive influence in her life. She shares some great moments with him but the equation is quite complicated and cheeky.
Emraan: I am playing the quirkiest character in the movie who is a skirt-chaser and is behind Isha. Since the two belong to quite opposite backgrounds, the chemistry between us is again quite complicated but interesting. My character has different shades. For the audience, Dalia (Emraan's character) will appear to be a kind of person who will evolve into someone else towards the end of the movie.
Since a trend of making parallel movies has been observed; do you think it is actually overshadowing the big budget commercials?
Ajay: People eventually watch commercial cinema only. In fact, even the parallel cinema today is commercial. But above all, I feel that the film needs to be good in order to work. I was the one who started to do parallel cinema back in the start of my career. I did films like Zakhm, Raincoat when nobody dared to touch it.
Milan: Well, the greatest hit of the film is Baahubali, which of course is a commercial movie. At the same time, parallel cinema is doing equally good. What it tells me is that all kinds of films are being accepted at present. Budget, genre or the type of the film does not matter to the audience. They just want to spend a good time watching the film. At the end of the day, the audience is the judge.
Emraan, you have been working on a documentary concerning cancer. How is it going?
I feel that over here if a film does not have four songs, an action sequence and some good dialogues, it gets very tough to find the funders. The documentary format is not very popular in India. That's the hurdle we are facing. We have a fantastic script but yet we are struggling to have the best outlet. It's a pet project, very close to my heart and hence I don't want to compromise at any instance.
Both, Emraan and Ileana, have done different kinds of roles in the start of your career. If given a chance to play such characters again, would you willingly accept the offer?
Ileana: I played quite glamorous roles in the start of my career. At that time I was lazy, young and did not have clear intentions about what I really wanted to do. Though I won't mind playing a glamorous role even today but it should hold some significance. I just want to do something new and challenging every time. Playing the role of Geetanjali was quite a new experience for me as I never expected to do something of that sort in my life.
Emraan: There was a point in life when I didn't want to sit at home and hence I began doing films without giving it a second thought. After spending 14 years in the industry, I have gained tremendous knowledge and experience. I think I have done pretty well for a guy who didn't want to be a part of the industry and was actually pushed in front of the camera. Every day was just an attempt to afloat and do good work. Hence, when I turn back, I realize the mistakes I have committed. So today I am pretty sure that I would like to do films that define me and Baadshaho is one such movie. If asked about being a part of another movie, the Raaz/Murder franchise, I would say a no, as I don't want to get into it anymore.