After making The Myth, I was thinking about what to do next. I always wanted to make an entertaining film based on India and China, and featuring Bollywood actors. When I started developing the idea of KungFu Yoga, I did a lot of research about India and things that I wanted to incorporate in the movie.
After Jackie Chan liked the script, the biggest challenge then was to cast other actors but luckily things fell into place and we started shooting the film. When I tried to do KungFu Yoga, I tried to do the best I could and didn’t really think about how and when I was going to release the film. As a filmmaker, what we have to concentrate on is how to make your movie the best you can.
What made you cast Sonu Sood for your film?
First, we don’t have tall actors like Sonu in China! Jokes aside, I was very happy working with Sonu since he is such a professional actor. When I first met him, I told him about the preparation he had to do for his character in terms of training and matching Jackie Chan’s level, because the Bollywood style of fighting and Jackie Chan’s style of fighting is very different. The tempo of fight sequences is a lot faster in Jackie Chan’s films.
Acting-wise, Sonu is just perfect. Besides getting a handsome and talented actor like him, we also got a good presenter and distributor associated with KungFu Yoga. I enjoyed working with Sonu. He’s also a good dancer.
Sonu said you had watched his film Happy New Year. What impresses you most in the Hindi film?
I think Bollywood films are very colourful and you get to see lot of elements on the big screen including emotions, dance, drama, action and music, which fascinates me as a creative person.
Were there any preconceived notions about India before you came to shoot and promote your film?
No, because I had already shot The Myth in India. Shooting for the film in India has been a memorable experience as the people supported us a lot. As I said, I like India and always like coming here. I’m enjoying promoting KungFu Yoga in India. I have loved India since I was a kid. I like to draw and had drawn the Taj Mahal a few times and have watched Bollywood movies, music and dances because my family is in the business of selling records and there are many Indians who live in Hong Kong too.
The first time I came to India was in 1993 after I made The Police Story and was looking for some new ideas. I travelled to the Himalayas and Bengaluru and across the entire country for about a month. I just love the culture and the architecture. I like the fabric and the costumes and jewellery design and Buddhism. I also like the Indian martial art, Kalaripayattu.
As a writer and director, I always want to find something new to show the audience because the Chinese audience doesn’t know a lot about India. I made The Myth with Jackie Chan 11 years ago.
Your association with Jackie Chan goes back a long way. How has your equation with him evolved over the years?
It’s very difficult to convince Jackie Chan to do a movie. For him, the challenge is to always better the work he has done in the past. Even though I have worked with him on several films, I always find it difficult to approach him with a movie script, and wonder whether he will like the idea or not.
Lastly, what are your expectations from the film’s India release?
I really hope that people like KungFu Yoga. It has all the elements of a Jackie Chan film and it’s a family entertainer.
– As told to Rohini Nag Madnani