‘You cannot afford to be swayed by hits and flops’

Sriram Raghavan takes his time to make films. He is not driven by market diktats and is attracted by an array of stories, even snippets in the news which he seizes to weave an entire screenplay around. His next,Badlapur, was born of a similar experience. Raghavan, in conversation with Box Office India, tells us how and when he decided to make Badlapur and how he cast his actors

You have always made your films at your own pace. What excited you about Badlapur?

That’s true, I have always made my films at my own pace and Badlapur is my fastest film so far. This was the quickest I wrote the idea and story. The idea came to me around this time last year. I shared it with Dinu (Dinesh Vijan) and we started shooting at the end of May this year. Now the film is complete and ready to release. So I would say this is a record for me. The film is based on a few real stories, which I had read in the newspapers and magazines. I took the essence from there and built on it. I met a few people who were attached to that particular case and their names feature in the credits.

What, according to you, went wrong with your last film Agent Vinod?

I guess in the way we interpreted the story and presented it. I didn’t do anything fresh and new. So while shooting, I thought I would introduce some smoking action sequences but even that didn’t work. Every director and writer makes mistakes. Besides, the spy genre has never really been attempted in India, and when one does attempt it, the audience equates it with Hollywood spy films.

Your films are usually offbeat. What inspires you to make films like these?
I watch a lot of world cinema and Hollywood too, and have seen how it connects with their audience. I also love films from Turkey and France and I feel their stories are very deep. When you make a deep film in India, people dub it as ‘different’. This film (Badlapur) is a bit of a break from that. That’s why I told Dinu that we should play safe by restricting our investment in this film. I wanted to stay true to the story and I was lucky to get the right cast and right team.

Dinesh Vijan is known to make different kind of cinema. When you pitched your story to him, what was his reaction? Was it easy to convince him?

I was supposed to make a different film with Dinu, so I had two to three different ideas when I discussed this one with him. I thought he would say it wasn’t his cup of tea but he later told me that he kept thinking about this story. So we decided to go with it. He said just one thing to me, ‘Promise me you will not dilute it’ because while shooting or scripting, a director tends to say things like, isko maar, yeh scene mein action kum kar, drama lao. With Badlapur, we said ‘let’s go as far as we want to go’. Badlapur is not about obscenity or sex; it’s about thoughts about these things. I am saying this because it’s an adult theme and, at the same time, it’s not a just an action or thriller. There is revenge, a love story and primarily drama.

It’s a film that doesn’t need much music. But Dinesh Vijan’s productions always have good music. Who convinced whom about the songs?

I love music but there is no room for the regular music in the kind of stories I do. But Badlapur has a couple of thematic lyrical songs. There aren’t any situations in the film that call for music but there is a background score. Sachin-Jigar delivered some terrific tracks and we have composed two songs so far.  We are composing one more. Although the film has no songs, not even in the end credits, we will be using songs in our promotions.
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