Shoot To Thrill
Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, an upcoming movie starring Nawazuddin and Bidita Bag in the lead roles, revolves around the life of a contract killer. After going through a lot of issues, the movie is finally approved to release post eight mandatory cuts.
The Babumoshai Bandookbaaz team – actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Bidita Bag, director Kushan Nandy and producer Ashmith Kunder – in conversation with Team Box Office India
BOI: How was Babumoshai Bandookbaaz conceived?
Ashmith Kunder (AK): It is all because of this young boy, Kushan. He will explain how.
Kushan Nandy (KN): Yeah, basically, the whole idea was to make a film that was very real, very raw and centred on this character called Babu, who was a contract killer. So we worked out a few things in the film which we thought would be plot points one, two and three. After that, we met Nawaz Bhai. And I think it was when he got excited about it that we sat and penned some more of it. As we started doing that, we started sketching characters that were real, that were based in that area of Central India, and we tried to keep it very real and very raw.
AK: It all started when Kushan read an article in the newspaper about small-town contract killers, young boys, who can take a life just for the price of just two bananas. That stayed with him and he developed this plot line. He discussed it with the writers and developed the script. So the thought was real but he built a fictional world around it, and Babu and his world was created.
BOI: Nawaz, what went through your mind when you heard the narration of the film for the first time?
Nawazuddin Siddiqui (NS): I like quirkiness and weirdness in a character, and there is a lot of excitement from me if the character I am playing has scope for this. As I have said many times before, when there are sapat (flat) characters… like the roles of heroes in our Bollywood films are very straight and there is no scope of performance there. I don't enjoy characters like that and have no interest in playing them either. I really liked this part since this character had so many qualities and, after watching this film, people will hopefully feel that this character is different from what they have seen before. He is not your regular hero; he is the opposite, a complete 180˚. He doesn't have any social or moral values but he does have a sense of humour, a weird sense of humour, and is also quite professional. One of the best qualities of this character is his sense of equality. In the film, he treats even his girlfriend, Phulwa, as an equal. He is not a male chauvinist or anything like that. The equality bit has crept into our script unconsciously.
BOI: Babu's character is very rustic, on the lines of what you have already done, Nawaz. Is this a comfort zone, of sorts, playing characters like this?
NS: No, no. I don't ever do roles that are in comfort zones. I think the role of being a Bollywood hero is in the most comfortable zone, and these are the kind of roles I do not do. The roles I play fall in the most uncomfortable zone. When I think I will find it difficult to do a particular role, that it will be tough for me to portray someone like that, I purposely do it because it is not in my comfort zone. Whether it is in MOM or Munna Michael or Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, these are characters from the uncomfortable zone for any actor. Usually, we have a very set structure for the hero and the heroine's characters, and those are the most comfortable characters. Roles like these are so simple and have very clichéd body language, so much so that you can pick up almost anyone from the street and make them do it. I think since the last five or six decades, we have had very similar roles for the hero. It is such a set role that you don't really need to train for it; there is no innovation or discovery needed for a character like that. It is very simple and clichéd. So it is one of the easiest roles to play in the industry
BOI: Bidita, at what point did you come on board, and what was your reaction to your role?
Bidita Bag (BB): I came at a very critical point, when the film was already 40- 50 per cent complete, and they were waiting for a heroine to come on board. I was selected at the very last moment. I was a little afraid because one heroine (Chitrangda) had stepped out and I was not sure if I should do this. But when I received the script, I was dead sure that I had to do this role because it had so much to do and the range, the emotional range, was so much that I was dying to do a role like this. When I arrived on the sets, everyone was waiting for me including Nawaz sir. I quickly changed into the character's look and was asked to sit in a corner. This corner was completely filled with old shoes.
I was asked to wear an old, dirty sari because I was playing a mochi (cobbler) in this film. That was actually one of the best things as nobody has played a mochi on screen… a female mochi, a hot, sultry female mochi, and I am really glad I got this part.
BOI: Bidita, with this film you have played a de-glamourised role pretty early in your Bollywood career. Did that worry you?
BB: It is not really early in my career. I started working when I was in the 11th standard and have been struggling for 10 years. I have done glamourous roles before. I was a fashion model. I still am a fashion model. I have seen the glamour world in modelling and it is not interesting enough for me. Besides, there are so many heroines doing the glamourous roles, so if I don't do something different how will I make a place for myself in this competitive industry? That's why I chose this role.
BOI: The Censor Board have demanded 48 cuts in the film.
KN: I have nothing to offer the censor board but I can assure the audience that the film will come out in its original version, without the cuts that they have suggested. I am very hopeful of that. People will see the film in its full-blown version.
BOI: How do you deal with disappointments since so much effort goes into making a film?
AK: We work on a script for one and half years… the actors put in so much time and effort. After all this, if we are asked to omit 15-20 things, it's not justified. No one has the right to do that. After suggesting an A-certificate, it's very silly to impose cuts as well. It is an insult to adults, that they are incapable being adult enough to watch such content. It is silly is an understatement.
BOI: Did you always have Nawaz in mind when you were scripting this role?
KN: I went to him in the very initial stage of scripting. I never had anybody else in mind and it is the truth that I would have shelved the film without him. Let me tell you why. He plays a contract killer.
What Nawaz Bhai brings to a film is a quirkiness that you could even call 'madness', and I don't think there are too many actors out there who can do this. So there is a very young, spirited, quirky guy behind this contract killer. And that's what I found in him. Without that, it would be just a regular story of a contract killer.
BOI: Nawaz, what would you say your director unlocked in you?
AK: I always try to get an idea of the director during the first meeting. The character is of a contract killer but Kushan is majorly responsible for the characterisation and the detailing, and that takes the character to another level.
A director always advises the actor about key points and there's a fair amount that's not scripted. It's the vision of the director that takes an actor forward and inspires him to deliver his best performance. The quirkiness and weirdness that I have brought to the character of Babumoshai has happened only with the help of my director.
KN (cuts in): Babumoshai is a character sans inhibitions. He is, in a way, unapologetically honest about everything he does. People will fall in love with the
uninhibitedness and the 'besharmi' of the character.
BOI: One trait of the character in the film that you relate to, Bidita?
BB: She is very passionate and so am I. Other than that, 'Phulwa' is very different from me. I had no idea I could pull off a role like this. My director has always been a guide to me. The character has a lot of extremes. She is very raw, manipulative, eccentric. She is also very cunning and money minded.
BOI: What was your perception of Nawaz and how has that changed now, Bidita?
BB: Initially, I thought he was a very serious guy, who does not like talking to people. Since he is a star, I thought he must have a lot of attitude. But, later, I found out that he was really entertaining. He would talk about his struggling days as well. I really enjoyed talking to him.
BOI: The equation between the team.
AK: Nawaz Bhai has treated it like a home production and I am very fortunate that I never had to flatter the star to get him on the set. He has been a great
support. Apni picture ki tarah.