Team Irada – actors Arshad Warsi, Divya Dutta, Sharad Kelkar and Sagarika Ghatge, along with director Aparnaa Singh and producer Prince Soni –in conversation with Team Box Office India
Box Office India (BOI): Aparnaa, what was your thought behind writing the film?
Aparnaa Singh (AS): The premise was given to me by producers Falguni Patel and Prince Soni. What was very engaging and intriguing for me was that it had not been explored before. It is a very powerful reality, tormenting, so to speak. I was completely consumed by the research they had already done, which was a documentary they had made earlier. Then we did a recce and did some more research. It is very compelling to know that something as real and gritty as this exists. It makes you want to be a part of it.
That there are a few dreams you look forward to in life and then God becomes kind to you. This is a dream cast. Each one has a different force and power and that they bring to the film. And the contribution is immense. It’s a glorious cast.
BOI: How did each one of you react when you were approached for the film?
Arshad Warsi (AW): The first thing that came across, very obviously, was good writing. And also the fact that Naseer was there. The story was also very interesting.
Divya Dutta (DD): The first reaction for any actor is when the director starts narrating. I literally jumped because I loved the way she narrated it. And I loved my part. It’s great to play a negative role. It’s great to have all those shades and to have all those very interesting scenes with Arshad in the film. We have some good confrontation scenes.
Sagarika Ghatge (SG): First, for me, when Aparnaaji told me the subject, the script got me all nervous. But when I got to know that there would be Arshad Warsi ji and Naseeruddin Shahji, I told her that these were actors I have always looked up to and I couldn’t have asked for a better film. The kind of work they have done and the kind of actors they are, and to be part of the same film is very, very exciting. So Maya’s is a very strong character, yet she has a very vulnerable side.
Sharad Kelkar (SK): Obviously, first, the story and the actors. It’s a pleasure and an honour to be working with Naseer sir and even Arshad sir. The story is brilliant. Every character has something.
BOI: There is a fun vibe between all the members of this team. Was it the same on the sets?
AS: Completely. When you have Arshad sir on the sets, it always a fun environment.
AW: I don’t know why we take ourselves and our work so seriously.
AS: Thanks to him, the entire process was a breeze.
AW: Sometimes, I don’t know if I should concentrate on my acting or keep the atmosphere nice.
AS: Arshadji and Naseerji were effortless.
BOI: As producer, what was it about the subject that interested you?
Prince Soni (PS): We started working on this subject three years ago. We researched it so thoroughly that, at one point, we felt we were making a documentary on the subject. It was hard to get into feature film mode. Then we discussed it with Aparnaa. She went ahead and discussed it with the cast, who did a fantastic job in completing the film.
BOI: The film has a very serious tone, and, as you said, the research was fit for a documentary. What did you add to make it more interesting?
AS: If there is a real premise, it will have depth. It will have its inherent darkness. But, as a film-maker, I think the actors improvised a lot. I think Arshad sir and Naseer sir did a great job.
AW: You are being polite. There is a superb thrill factor to the script. That’s where its beauty lies. I was also excited when I heard the story. Also, the film carries a very serious message but, for me, the film has to also be entertaining. And I would want to sit a tub of popcorn and enjoy the film. So there is a strong thrill element in this film. There’s a murder mystery. There is quirkiness. So you are not really concentrating on the real darkness or the pain in the film. But when you leave the cinema, you know what the film was all about. That’s good writing.
DD: I was just telling someone that it is difficult for me to get out of a character. Sometimes, you can’t detach yourself. We used to do serious scenes and masti wale scenes at the same time. So when you see both of us together in the film, you will smile.
AW: Actually, those scenes are very intense.
DD: There is a nice, subtle play between us. But after the shot was cut, it was fun once again. So, yes, it was easy to get out. Someone at the preview pointed out that this was not my comfort zone. I am glad I could do something outside my comfort zone.
BOI: Content-oriented films are the hot favourite of the audience today. Do you think this is the right time for a film like Irada to release?
AS: Absolutely! Credible content is coming back.
DD: The audience is definitely ready for something like this. They want good stories, they want good performances. They want to see something different as long as you present it with a little entertainment and great marketing. Quality cinema is doing really well.
BOI: It is said that films don’t fail, budgets do. What steps did you take to keep the budget of this film in check?
PS: We tried our best and considering it was our first film, I don’t think we went wrong. I got some amazing actors who cooperated well with me. It would have been very different if it had been a different cast.
AW: These guys are the nicest producers I have ever worked with. You have a man who completely believed in the subject, whereas 99 per cent of producers would not have as it is not your regular kind of film that brings in money. It’s the kind of film you make because you believe in it.
Still, the film did not fall short in any way. It got everything it needed. And that’s what a producer does. The other thing is that the film was written in a way that was different from other movies. It was not set in Paris or Rome or somewhere exotic. So the cost was very reasonable and in keeping with the story. And, from an actor’s point of view, I would say they were damn good producers!
BOI: You mentioned how impressed each one of you is with Aparnaa’s writing. Now that the film is set to hit cinemas, how happy are you with your director?
DD: I was envious of the fact that she is a such a calm person. I mean, there must be something that puts you off or makes you say, ‘I’m losing my temper.’ But that never happened.
PS: She only does that with her producers!
SG: This film needed someone who is very sensitive and that’s exactly who she is.
DD: When you have a narration with her – and all of us had our individual narrations with her – it’s a lovely little journey when you’re working on the role. And it is important that you have great communication with the director. She has that.
AW: She is my first female director.