Kapil Sharma gets candid with Team Box Office India about Firangi, which also marks his production debut
BOI: How did you hit upon the idea of Firangi?
It was Rajiev’s idea and I liked it! I had always wanted to make a period film and so I went ahead with the project. Films set in the Independence era tend to show the dark side of those times. It was very unfortunate that the nation had to go through such a difficult phase but we wanted to make a film on a lighter note, to portray the normalcy of life during that period.
People had a lot of love and respect for each other and they celebrated all the festivals together. I think this is the first light, entertaining film about the pre-Independence era. It took quite a lot of time, almost a year, to develop the script. I was very happy because the script doesn’t have any elements that are out of sync with that period. There is no one jumping out of a helicopter or riding a horse. When the audience watches the film, they will realise that the film is just perfect for me. It looks really good and we have already received a good response to the trailer. Let’s hope for the best.
BOI: What kind of research went into making this film? Tell us about the process behind recreating the period.
It is not like we were totally committed to the facts of that era while making this film. Yeah, but our research was thorough about certain things, like the Bharat Chodo Andolan, as the film revolves around that period. This was the basic research that the team went through, so that the film did not look fake. But since the story is totally fictional, we were not required to do a great deal of research.
When people watch this film, they will be quite entertained to learn about certain things from that era. We built a set that looked like a village from that time, and not everyone had access to electricity. As for the location, we zeroed in on a place in Punjab, which not many people have seen. It was quite a lot of fun to shoot at this location.
BOI: Since you have produced the film, it is bound to have its share of humour but the trailer shows plenty of drama and emotions. Are you trying to prove that you can be more than just a comic actor?
Many people wonder whether I can do anything but comedy. I started my career as a comedian much later. Before that, I was a theatre artiste and most of the plays I did were serious. Comedy happened quite by accident. Now, if I still managed to win people’s hearts even after that, I feel people will show the same kind of love for whichever field that I choose. There is a lot of romance from that period, very raw and real. You know, the girl and boy looking at each other from a distance. The film has its own share of thrills and drama. Comedy is always a constant, and I hope the audience will have fun watching the film. So yeah, all kinds of elements are present in this film.
BOI: The director of the film is a childhood friend of yours. Did that association help bring out the best in you?
Absolutely, it helped a lot. He knows me since childhood. Usko pata hai main kitne paani mein hoon! He knows my strengths and weaknesses. Every day, I used to visit these people when they were writing the script. This helped a lot because, by the time we started shooting, I did not even require a script on the sets. Obviously, we would revise the dialogue but I would always remember the scene, beforehand. I was so confident that I did not even ask about the scene, the entire story was in my head. I had seen the story being written and that helped a lot.
BOI: Why did you choose to produce your own film?
Earlier, we wanted someone else to produce this film but there is a complicated protocol you need to follow. It is not easy to manage the budget and schedule. To avoid these problems, we decided to produce our own film. Paise the mere pas, toh socha kharch kar lete hain!
BOI: How challenging was it to simultaneously act and produce a film?
Never did I once feel like a producer except when, after pack-up in the evening, I had to sign a bunch of cheques. That’s the only time I felt I was a producer!
BOI: What was it like being a producer?
It was a great experience and I learnt a lot, as is usually the case when one does something for the first time. You get a lot of respect as well. Nobody says anything to the producer!
BOI: Can we expect more films to be produced by you?
Yes, I am producing one more film. It is a Punjabi film and it is almost complete. It was originally a Marathi film; we bought the rights and made it in Punjabi. The concept is fun and the film is almost ready to release, maybe next year.
BOI: Your last film didn’t receive great reviews from the critics. What are your expectations from this film?
My last film did pretty well at the box office. This film has been made from the heart and we haven’t compromised on anything because this is my first film as a producer. The story is very interesting and this film is also very close to my heart. The entire team has worked very hard. People expected only comedy but the trailer tells you that there are a lot of other elements as well. It is a complete package.
BOI: Other than comedy, if given a chance to explore other genres of films, would you take up that opportunity?
This film is not an out-and-out comedy. It is a family film; there is a lot of romance and even a little action. But I cannot do something that doesn’t suit me, like action. Besides, I can’t work all that hard! But, as an artiste, I obviously want to attempt different things. Personally, I am very fond of action and suspense. I rarely watch comedy!
BOI: If we look at box office reports, full-on comedy films like Golmaal Again!!! and Judwaa 2 have done really well. Do you feel it is a good year for comedy?
I think everybody is very fond of comedy. Everybody wants to have a good laugh. But I don’t think it is only comedy that is doing well. Take Sairat, for example. I had heard so much about that film. I don’t know Marathi but I still went to watch the film. Films are supposed to be entertaining. Recently, I watched Newton and I really liked it.
BOI: This year, many films with a big star cast have flopped. Does that worry you?
No. I never made this film with this in mind. If we keep thinking about this, I don’t think it will be possible for us to make films. It is important to make a film with a good subject, from the heart and with a lot of hard work. I hope people like this film. I spread awareness about my film because I keep talking about it. I started talking about it on my own show. Recently, we went to Jaipur and the driver of our car knew the name of our film, that is, someone who is on the road 18 hours a day. This gave me a lot of happiness and hope.
BOI: People in the trade believe that when the audience can watch TV artistes for free on television, why would they buy tickets to watch a film? What is your take on that?
Isiliye show bandh kar diya! It is true that television reaches the audience for free, but what we do in the movies cannot be done on television. They are both very different mediums. For example, my last film did good business, despite the fact that I did the same thing that I do on television. This time, it is a little different; people will see a different side of me.
BOI: Promoting a film is one of the most important stages of a film’s life cycle. What have you learnt from the promotions of Firangi?
Promotions are very basic. We have gone to some ground events, also some television shows. Aaj aapke paas aaye hai! We have our PR team who is planning the strategy to promote the film.
BOI: And what about distribution?
Anil Thadani is distributing the film. He has shown a keen interest in doing so because he likes the film.
BOI: Any thoughts like… ‘If we cross this number, we are through’?
No, not at all. I think it is very difficult to predict things like this. I have no idea about this.
BOI: How happy are you with the final product?
Mazaa aa raha hai dekh ke! I just love watching myself on the big screen. I feel very proud. I have always wanted to do something like this but I never got the opportunity. After my first film, I was offered a lot of films, like the remake of some film or the other, or a movie down South. But I feel there is a big difference between the audience down South and here. I like the story of this film because it is about an honest man, and even though he is working for the British, he is loyal to them. He believes every human being is honest and that nobody is bad. It was quite an interesting subject. I am very happy with the final product. I have seen the film almost 30 times!
BOI: The youth is one of the most important groups in the audience mix. What can they take away from this film?
I believe that regardless of the story, if it is worth it, it will attract all kinds of people. For instance, I know that a lot of senior citizens were asking the kids when was Kapil’s film releasing. This may be so because, no matter what we do on television, we never do anything below the belt in a film so that families will come to watch it. So, while making this film, we kept in mind that the entire family should make it to the movies, not just the youth or any specific age group. In fact, there is an actor who plays my grandmother and people will enjoy watching the bond between a grandmother and her grandchild. The youth will get to see a lot of romance from the earlier era.
BOI: What was your experience like shooting with your co-stars?
I used to think that television artistes work way too much and that working in films is about giving one shot and you’re done. But looking at my co-star, Ishita (Dutta), I realised, working in a film requires a lot of dedication. Sometimes, she would wait for an entire day to deliver that one perfect shot, with her make-up on, as the DOP required a sunset shot, and sunset lasts only a few seconds. I hope all films get their due because making a film takes a lot of hard work. We started shooting when there was a lot of fog on the sets and then moved to Rajasthan in April. So it was quite challenging, especially for the crew.
BOI: What about your future projects?
We are working on a lot of ideas and scripts. But I can discuss this only later, when things start to materialise.