Ranbir Kapoor is playing a larger-than-life quintessential Hindi film hero with the action entertainer Shamshera that releases this Friday 22nd July. Ranbir, who is coming to the big screen four years after he delivered the blockbuster Sanju, is pitted against Sanjay Dutt who is playing an evil, merciless, cold-hearted brute force of nature, Shuddh Singh. Sanjay Dutt vs Ranbir Kapoor is the clash of the year on the big screen.
Shamshera’s Director, Karan Malhotra reveals details of how the stunning world of Shamshera came alive.
How did Shamshera happen?
When I first met Adi, he was nurturing some ideas at the time. He asked me to pick one of them, and see if I get excited as a creative person. I remember getting latched on to the core idea of Shamshera. Eventually, Ekta (Pathak, Karan Malhotra’s wife) and I took on that idea and created a full screenplay out of it.
What made you cast Ranbir Kapoor as Shamshera?
Ranbir brings in the freshness to Shamshera that an actor rarely brings these days. What is unique about Shamshera, and why the trailer has been received well, is because Ranbir is not an usual suspect for a film like this. For example, you would not think of Hrithik Roshan for Agneepath at that time, you wouldn’t think of Rishi Kapoor as Rauf Lala (in Agneepath) at that time or think of Sanjay (Dutt) to be a villain at that time. So, I think, I enjoy those challenges, and for me, it is almost a pattern that I repeat, otherwise a film would not have a kind of newness and discovery, where would that come from?
How was it directing Ranbir Kapoor in a double role?
Directing Ranbir was a very new and an enriching experience as he is a new-age actor. He is an actor who internalises a lot, you see that in all of his performances. He is not a loud actor, he is not out there, but my cinema is exactly that. He has really worked hard in imbibing my sensibilities into his performance and giving it his best. Once, I went into his van and told him that I need to talk to him, to which he asked, ‘tu daantne toh nahi aayaa mujhe? (have you come to scold me?)’. I said ‘no’, but in Shamshera, I needed a ‘sixer’ from him in every shot.
Tell us your experience of making Shamshera?
Shamshera is the biggest film that I have done so far. The world of ‘Shamshera’ is unlike ‘Agneepath’ or ‘Brothers’. It is much bigger than that. Shamshera was a more liberating and less burdening process to create a world of mine. It was also the most daunting film for us because we had humongous sets and big crowds. We had no reference point, we had to build the world from scratch.
You have reunited with Sanjay Dutt after Agneepath. How was it working for the second time with him?
I knew he would create Shuddh Singh in a way that no other actor can, which is why I went to him. The best part is that he is not a typical villain. He has been a hero and main lead all his life. To cast him as a villain makes it unique. He is such a superlative performer that he will make you fall in love with himself, whether he is playing a hero or villain.”
Not much has been revealed about Vaani’s character. Can you tell us something about it?
Vaani plays a character named Sona in the film. She is a traveling performer. She is not eye candy. She is not there in the film for song and dance. She has a beautiful arc in the film. She becomes a strong force behind Ranbir’s character. Vaani’s journey is beautiful. You will see her in various shades in Shamshera. The reason behind casting Vaani was that I loved her in her first film. She has a strong presence. I always felt that Vaani could become the quintessential Hindi film heroine who can handle any emotion with ease. She can hold her own well.
After a 4 year comeback, Ranbir Kapoor shared his experience in the world of Shamshera.
What made you sign up for Shamshera?
I loved the subject and what Karan was doing. It’s an action bonanza set in the 1800s, an adventure, like an amusement park with thrills, and a great story and character. When I heard the script, the selfish actor in me woke up and I offered myself for both the parts. This was exciting for me as an actor. So Shamshera was a no-brainer when it came to saying yes to the script.
You are playing a double role for the first time. Your experience?
When the film was narrated to me, it wasn’t really offered to me as a double role. But when I heard the story, my immediate response to Aditya Chopra and Karan Malhotra was that let me play the father also! Because it is such a great role, it is such an interesting, juicy part for an actor to play. Then, I really had to convince Adi and Karan. I think after that Karan did a couple of look tests and that’s when he got convinced also. So, initially it wasn’t offered to me but it hooked me thoroughly as an actor. They were two unique characters and for an actor like me, to play two distinctive characters and make them different was very challenging and very exciting for me.
Working with Vaani Kapoor?
Vaani is a very fine actor. She is someone who works very hard. She is so focused that she is always wearing headphones, listening to music and trying to be in the character. Many times I’ve tried to distract her and just have stupid conversation. We really befriended each other. We really enjoyed each other’s company. I think what she’s done in ‘Shamshera’ is quite outstanding and I am looking forward to see how people find her character and her performance. She has a very important role in the film and people will have to wait to see it to understand how important her role is.
You played Sanjay Dutt in your last film Sanju. And in this one you are pitted against him. How was it working with him?
When I started working on Shamshera Sanju sir was not cast at that time. I have so much love and respect for him not just as an actor or a personality on screen but also as a human being. I was ecstatic that I was finally getting an opportunity to work with my screen hero, in a film. It’s amazing that Sanjay Dutt is my antagonist! When I was 10 or 11, I had Sanjay Dutt’s poster in my cupboard. Then eventually getting to play him in a biopic directed by Rajkumar Hirani was a dream come true. And finally getting an opportunity to work with him, to act with him, where I am the protagonist and he is the antagonist, it’s incredible! Sanjay Dutt has given us some epic villains with his brilliant acting performances and people are going to love him as Shuddh Singh in Shamshera!
You are returning to the big screen after 4 years. What do you have to say about your comeback?
Well a lot of them are saying that Shamshera is my comeback picture. But where was I gone? And why are they calling it my comeback picture? Sanju was a hit. It is not that my seven eight films flopped and then Shamshera is coming. But you keep getting such tags.
Directed by Karan Malhotra, this action extravaganza has been produced by Aditya Chopra and is set to release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu on July 22nd 2022.