Team Roy – T- Series’ Chairman & MD, Bhushan Kumar; Director, Ajay Kapoor; President – Media, Marketing and Publishing (TV) Vinod Bhanushali, and director Vikramjit Singh – in conversation with team Box Office India
Vikramjit Singh (VS): My friend Gaurav Gupta told me Bhushanji (Kumar) was looking for scripts to back. I met Ajay (Kapoor) and, after 10 minutes of narration, he spoke to Bhushanji (Kumar) and I gave them a joint narration. And, just like that, we were on! It was the easiest narration I have ever given.
Bhushan Kumar (BK): Why don’t you rewind a little and tell them about how you approached Eros with the film, so that they get something spicy to print. (Laughs)
VS: Ok, here’s a quick synopsis. I got an MBA degree at Wharton and worked as an investment banker in the US. I gave up that job and came to India and started assisting Farhan Akhtar on Lakshya, but only for three months. Then I started writing and pitching scripts. In 2007, I was to make a film called Raastey with Abhishek Bachchan, John Abraham and Aishwarya Rai. The film was plagued by delays – Abhishek got stuck with Drona, and at around the same time, Rakeysh Mehra began working on Delhi 6, so Abhishek started researching for that film.
I couldn’t wait that long and I had also got involved with another film, which did not take off. Then, in 2010, I started writing a script and I had a producer called Eros. Still, things did not take off. Fast forward to December 2012, when this film came to T-Series.
BK: Not two years, 2013…so, yeah, two years and two months later we are ready for release.
BOI: Bhushanji, what was it about Roy that made you say ‘yes’ so quickly?
BK: I was looking for a different kind of cinema. At the time, films like Rowdy Rathore were in vogue, where the hero would take on 100 goons. But we always felt that would change. We got into production quite a bit later, when we made Ready, which was our first proper release. We were also analysing the longevity of different genres, you know, whether action, comedy or romantic films… how long would a genre sustain? I finalised this script when action genres were doing very well. I also predicted that two years later, this is the genre that would work well with the audience. I believed people would be looking for a change and that is precisely what has happened.
There was a time when comedy was doing well. But there were also many comedy films that didn’t work as well as back-to-back action films that didn’t work. So, two years ago, we predicted that this genre would work. I think we were right ki yeh koi unreal genre nahi hai. Baby was also a true-genre film and the action in that film too was real. Typically, our films do not show the hero being injured but with Baby, the hero experiences pain, which is evident even during the climax.
Vinod Bhanushali (VB): Every hero is not a superhero and that’s what we showed in Baby.
BK: After the release of Baby, we were confident about this film because its music has caught on and that is what I wanted. Again, this story too is very real and you can relate to it. It is a romantic thriller…
VS: I would call it a drama.
BK: Drama but it has a mix of thrills, action, music and romance. So it’s a romantic thriller with drama.
VS: I guess he instantly liked my beard! (Laughs)
Ajay Kapoor (AK): He narrated the story to me and I liked it and he also told me about his characters…
BOI: By this time, were Arjun Rampal and Ranbir Kapoor on board?
AK: Yes! In fact, he called Ranbir just five minutes after the narration…
BK: From the very beginning, we were attracted to the fact that Ranbir was on board. Then we were told that Vikramjit and Ranbir were childhood friends. We felt reassured that this was a genuine film. (Laughs)
VS: Are you saying that people approach you with scripts and drop names of big actors they haven’t even met, claiming they will work on the film?
BK: Oh yes! We come across so many people like that!
VB: In fact, they work the other way around. They tell us that the star is just waiting for us to green-light the film. (Laughs)
BOI: It took you so many years to start a film, and here you began work within a few minutes. How did that feel?
VS: It was unbelievable. I have had so many roadblocks. Sometimes at the narration stage, sometimes budgets have not worked but here was this producer with whom everything clicked. We began working on it at the end of 2013 and in Jan 2014, we began working on the modalities. I had to do my recce, then sort out date issues, like Jackie (Jacqueline Fernandez) was getting involved in with Kick. Finally, we started filming and thankfully it came together. And, thankfully, there was no interference from my producer on the creative aspect.
BOI: Did Bhushanji interfere with the music?
BK: That was the deal! And he is very happy with the deal!
VS: Yes, I am very happy with the deal. Initially, I had told him I wanted to do the film my way and Bhushanji agreed but he said he would do the music his way. So Bhushanji took charge of the music. He made me listen to every track in his office, and I also met the music director and the lyricist. And so the music is a part of my narrative and it’s not like there are separate promotional songs; they are all part of the film. It’s turned out great.
BOI: Bhushanji, do you first understand the situations in the story before you come up with songs, or do you just like a song and use it in the film?
VS: No no, he took four narrations from me!
BK: I initially had reservations about the dialogue, which he readily agreed to change. Then I took five narrations and started making the songs to sync with the situations. For instance, the Ranbir Kapoor song Tu hai ki nahi… connects with the situation, where he is reminiscing. Sooraj dooba hai is a party song. In the film, they attend an island party, where the song plays.
VS: (Cuts in) Sooraj dooba hai is the most topical song in the film. It’s very much a part of the story, which moves forward with that song.
BK: If I were making a film, I would have made Sooraj dooba hai a party anthem but he had a situation in the film where the song had to start from a car, and the music director and I decided to give the song a romantic feel till Matlabi… and then reach the destination. So many people have told me that they especially like two songs from the film – Sooraj dooba… and Matlabi… Ever since the song became a rage, people realised it’s one song, not two. (Laughs).