Producer Amul Vikas Mohan and actor Rajkummar Rao in conversation with Team Box Office India about their upcoming film Behen Hogi Teri
BOI: Amul, what made you cast Rajkummar Rao in the film?
Amul Vikas Mohan (AVM): I think he suited in the role, which was the main starting point. Me, other producers and the director discussed the issue and were very sure that we should go with him. All of us thought he would suit the part, in terms of look etc.
The other main reason was that he has never done this before. The idea was that he is known for his acting prowess, and we wanted the audience to see a different side of him. You have seen that in Queen and Dolly Ki Doli, which didn’t really pushed out that way. So that was the biggest reason to approach him. After that, he read the script, liked it and came on board.
BOI: Rajkummar, what was it about the script that you really liked?
Rajkummar Rao (RR): The story was so relatable, like I know characters like these and they exist in our country. Also, this was something I had never done before. It would be a new title for me to explore, and the whole story, the director Ajay, he is a great and talented person… I think we are all very proud of him for the kind of film he has made. We are really happy with the product but, mainly, the story and my part Gattu. There’s so much going on in his life. There’s something going on internally but, externally, he is trying to show something different. I thought, as an actor, I could experiment with the part.
BOI: The film seems to have a sense of blessing. Everything has been so smooth and appreciated by the audience be it the songs or the trailer…
AVM: (Cuts in) It’s odd that you asked this question because we were talking about it while driving to your office. He lost his mom last year and l lost my dad last year. We were just saying that they have blessed us so much. All the decisions we have taken have been seamless for us, which is crazy. I come from the industry and he has done so many films and we know how things can go wrong in a snap. Yet, everything went very smoothly. I genuinely believe that we have the blessings of his mom and my dad and everyone else involved with this film.
RR: It’s a very honest film. We never thought that ki yeh bikhta hai toh yeh dal dete hai and that is how a commercial film should be. It’s a hardcore commercial film but it’s very sensible and very relatable. I think people may not have seen characters like these in earlier films and when the audience watches them, they are bound to think, I know a guy like him or I know a neighbour like her, whom I had a crush on.
BOI: In the film, there are three prospective grooms. When the scripting was underway, did either of you offer any inputs?
AVM: For me, ‘yes’, because before we went to Raj, I sat on the script with the writer, Vinit Viyas, and director Ajay K Pannalal. I sat with them for six months every other night and, together, we took care of every single scene. If the script is fine, everything else falls in place. We will get the actors we want and we will get to shoot the way we want to only if we have a good script.
When you haven’t made a film before, you can feel a lot of pressure, like, arey jaldi banatey hai nah or, if not this actor then that actor will work… That never happened with us. When we watch the trailer and all the funny lines, I feel very happy because Ajay and I know how much time we spent on that one scene.
Once Raj was on the set and he too contributed a lot. It was not interference or trying to tell a new director or a new producer how things work. It was about bringing in something new from Gattu’s point of view because it was a thought process we hadn’t seen. He added a lot, you know, nuances to so many characters, which helped a lot.
BOI: Whose idea was it to incorporate the line that Aaj ke baad, har Hindi film ke hero ka naam Gattu hoga?
RR: That was a crazy scene, where Gattu is frustrated and is venting his frustration and is drunk. So I wanted to drink while shooting this scene even though I don’t drink in real life. When the director said ‘action’, we just went off on a tangent. The scene was supposed to be two to three minutes long, and it went on for half an hour. I was just being Gattu and venting my frustration pent up since childhood, about being a neighbour and people calling me ‘Bhai’. With guys like Rahul, they are dream boys, even in our Hindi cinema, they are shown that way. In this film too, there is a reference to a boy called Rahul who has come from France. He is really cool and every parent would want their daughter to settle down with him. So we improvised all these lines.
BOI: How good an actor are you? You were drunk and you were still in character.
AKM: He was phenomenal; I have never seen anything like this before. I am not making this up. The director and I were on the monitor. They were on a tangent and, in every new take, there was a new angle explored. Right now, the scene is around three and a half minutes long in the film but we had four takes of 15 minutes each. So we had so much to choose from. Hats off to him, I think only he could do it. I don’t think any other actor could have pulled it off with so much ease.
RR: I think, subconsciously, you are actually living in that moment because the subconscious mind has a great power to remember everything, to say something you wanted to say. So I was subconsciously being Gattu in that moment, and whatever emerged was like Gattu not like Raj.
BOI: Was it difficult to get out of your character after being so into it?
RR: No, it takes some time, especially when it’s a character like Gattu, who has a different language because UP has a different accent. It took me some time to actually forget that language and start with something new. Now I am shooting for Bose and there are times when I am calling out to someone and, suddenly, that Lucknowi accent comes out. It is natural to take some time to get into something new.
BOI: Is there any extra pressure because you are making your first film..
AVM: (Cuts in) No, coming back to your comment about blessings… there was no pressure but there were blessings. The songs has come out, trailers has come out and it has got an amazing response. We didn’t buy any views and we didn’t have to push all that hard. It’s all genuine. It was, like, let’s try to be true to the film. On the first day of the shoot, we landed in Lucknow and we sent out messages to each other that welcome to Lucknow and let’s try to make a honest film bro. It was that thought process for both us to begin with and all the other people as well. So there was no extra pressure, we were true to the craft.