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All About Love

Lead pair of upcoming romantic film, Do Lafzon Ki Kahani, Randeep Hooda and Kajal Aggarwal, share their journey while making the film and talk about commercial success and choosing projects with Team Box Office India

Box Office India (BOI): What made both of you say yes to the film?

Randeep Hooda (RH): It was the script, which was very good. It gave me an opportunity to play a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighter but it wasn’t a film about fighting only. It is actually a romantic film, a love story, and I play a very nice character. As children living in small towns, we’ve all fantasised about being a physically strong guy saving our lady love. It was interesting to be able to actually play that role and so I did it.

Kajal Aggarwal (KA): For me, it was the script, of course, but playing a visually challenged person was also very exciting for me. I have done several love stories and have played the girl next door in a lot of films but this was the first time I have doing something so real. And as Randeep said, it is a very intense love story. I thought it was a fabulous story and then, of course, there was Randeep (as my co-star).

BOI: How did you prep for your role before you began filming since Randeep plays an MMA fighter while Kajal plays a visually impaired girl?

RH: I underwent training for six months. My whole body ached and it was an ordeal.

KA: You killed it…

RH: Two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening. All I used to do was moan in pain and sleep. I would train, and get back and be like a vegetable, then drag myself out of bed again to train, come back and be a vegetable.

BOI: What was it like for you, Kajal?

RH: It was very easy for her. (Laughs)

KA: (Laughs) Haan, mujhe waise bhi kuch nahin dikhta. I wear blinders and walk around with them on. On a serious note, the St Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC) helped me quite a bit. That taught me how to interact with visually impaired people. Dr Sam, the head of XRCVC, was very helpful. He introduced me to a life I had never seen before. He taught me basic things like how to walk and how visually impaired people live their life. And, of course, I read a lot about this.

BOI: Randeep, how refreshing was it for you to finally play a romantic role?

RH: Oh, it was very refreshing! This is my first quintessential, out-and-out commercial, romantic film and the most sugar-coated script I have ever been part of. It was so refreshing even though my character is still battling his own demons but I think that made it even more interesting and added a slightly new flavour to the always happy, always smiling, rather charmed by one’s own self other than your co-star kind of performance.

All in all, this is my most conventional, almost formulaic love story. I am glad I had a co-star like Kajal because she could see what I was doing. She is very spontaneous and has her heart in the right place. It was a good experience and we shot in Malaysia, which is actually quite a romantic place.

KA: Yes, and it also rained all the time.

RH: Yes, for me, rain symbolises romance and there was ample time to sit around with Kajal and listen to the pitter patter of the rain. (Laughs)

KA: I was really irritated because of that, not with Randeep but with the pitter-patter ruining my hair.

RH: I think she grew taller during the course of the film. I don’t know why. (Laughs)

KA: It’s actually ironic that you say this was your most conventional film and, for me, my most unconventional film.

BOI: Why do you say that?

KA: Because this is one of the most realistic films I have ever done. You can imagine the number of sugary films I have done before! I have been on a completely different tangent than Randeep.

RH: So, basically, she doesn’t wear a sexy saree and twirl around in the rain with shampooed hair. That’s what she didn’t get to do in this film. (Laughs)

KA: Yes, that is exactly what I mean. (Laughs)

BOI: Randeep, were you waiting for a conventional, romantic film to come your way?

RH: No, I was not but, you know, some films with great songs are executed stupendously. And this film has some of the most fabulous songs I have ever heard. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Am I really going to be featured in these songs?’  I really wanted to try this because I have not been part of many songs. I mean, it’s only recently that I have been featuring in every other song on television. Before that, I didn’t feature in any songs for the longest time, except for Jism 2 and probably Murder 3. I have not been part of any songs in my career and, all of a sudden, when I watch TV, there’s a Laal Rang song followed by a song from Sarbjit and then a Do Lafzon Ki Kahani song!

KA: But people are not complaining.

RH: Neither am I. I have always wanted to be part of songs because, you know, when these legendary actors passed away, they would only show their songs on TV! It used to make me wonder whether, after working all my life as an actor, they would have nothing to show on me when I die because they don’t show scenes, only songs. (Laughs)

KA: And they show happy songs.

RH: Yes, happy songs. So I was wondering whether I would even be remembered (when I am gone). So somewhere in my heart, I have always wished to be part of songs. And here I am! (Laughs)

KA: That is a fabulous reason and a really nice answer.

RH: Yes, and you cannot steal it!

KA: I am going to use it in my next interview.

BOI: Were you comfortable doing all those songs?

RH: Well, my full-on song was in Jism 3… Ishq bhi kiya re maula… I said no to it and I told Pooja (Bhatt), ‘I don’t want to do it; I will return your money because how can I do this?’ But she insisted. What got me going was that I got involved learning the cello. I learnt the whole song on the cello and in the film, I actually played it. So I hoodwinked myself into thinking that I was not doing a song but performing a part of the character.

KA: (Cuts in) That is something I really like about Randeep. He gets involved in everything he does. For instance, he learns something new from every character he plays. Like, from this film, he learnt MMA.

RH: I think I learn much more from my films than I ever did in school or college.

KA: You went to school?

RH: Yes I went to school. My school friends are very proud of me.

BOI: Apart from having good songs and quintessential romance, what according to you is the selling point of the film?

RH: I think it has very beautiful…

KA: (Cuts in) …faces!

RH: Actress. It has great songs, it has great pathos in the love story, much more than in other successful romantic films in recent times, and it has some realistic fight sequences. It also has a great play of fate. Like in Sarbjittoo, fate played a huge role. You know, a drunken man accidentally crosses a boundary and this is what happens. Here too, fate plays a big role, which is the part I always like. Whether it’s your life or career, fate has a very important and part to play.

BOI: The chemistry between both of you looks outstanding. Tell us about the first day of the shoot.

RH: Well it was on the 31st day. (Laughs)

KA: He did not talk to me when I reached Malaysia and he yelled at me the minute he met me… I can’t reveal why. Then, in time, we broke the ice. We did a couple of workshops, not really workshops, we sat together and discussed scenes and that helped us break the ice. Then he introduced me to his dog.

RH: (Cuts in) Yes she is petrified of dogs, I don’t know how she is always cosying up to me! (Laughs)

KA: I am not!

RH: In a nice way, a friendly way.

KA: Exactly, and that helped because, in the movie, I am supposed to be in love with a dog that he has. (Laughs)

RH: I think throughout the promotions, we should just do this. We should laugh and crack inside jokes, people like that. Nobody is attracted to these serious actors, who wear serious expressions and are trying to change the country.

BOI: What was it like working with Deepak Tijori?

RH: Deepak had some great ideas and he has a keen eye and lets his actors do their part. He is open to new ideas, which is very good. He is a very secure director, which I think is his biggest advantage and of course he has so much experience having worked with so many directors and actors. So he knows how to deal with everyone. Since he was once an actor, he understands an actor’s point of view.

KA: I think he stumbled upon a great script, which makes all the difference.

BOI: How close is the film to the first narration you were given and how happy are you with the final product?

RH: We will find out how satisfied we are on June 10. I am hardly ever satisfied with my work or even with

somebody else’s work. There are great things in every film but congratulating and patting yourself on the back too soon is what differentiates a great artiste from a not-so-great artiste.

I only see mistakes, I see mistakes in all the movies I have done, whether Highway, Sarbjit… I analyse them and till something can be done, I keep trying, whether discussing them with the director or producer I always keep trying to improve it in dubbing. After the DCP is out, nothing can be done. Then there is analysis.

After Highway, Main Aur Charles and Laal Rang, I received many compliments but, this time, people are silent. People call and say ‘Randeep…’ there is silence. Then I have to say ‘thank you.’ I feel, okay, I have put in this hard work, I am very grateful but there are lot of things that could have been done that I will do next time.

And it is not only to do with me but also with the people I am working with. Like, if there is no sync sound, I can’t do a movie because technology has moved on and so should you. I discuss these things with the directors I have worked with, whether they like me or not. At the end of the day, it’s team work, as an actor, as a director, as a cinematographer, as a producer… nobody can do anything other than their job, then the director has to bring it all together.

BOI: 2016 seems to be a busy year for you, where you have back-to-back releases.

RH: Actually, 2015 was a busy year, when I was shooting back-to-back. Now I am enjoying back-to-back releases. I feel it is unfortunate that they are releasing one after the other.

BOI: Why do you say that?

RH: It is better to have them spaced out because every film should have its space. But the lack of experience on the part of producers… they are all first-time producers. Laal Rang had a first-time producer, Sarbjit had first-time producers and so does this film. There are a lot of factors involved when you need to release a film, and they don’t always listen to me. And I prefer not to twist their arm. Teri kismet tu sambhal, main toh apni performance karke nikal jaunga. At the end of the day, they have to shoulder the financial risk. My responsibility is to do the promotions.

BOI: Randeep, you have always received high praise for your performances but if a film doesn’t do well at the box office, does it affect you?

RH: I don’t care! Is it something I have any control over? Am I in control of when the film releases? Or how to market the film? How to mount the film? How to make the film hot, as they say, ‘picture garam hai ki nahi?’ I am not responsible for everything. People don’t like watching me on screen? That is not true. People don’t like what I do? Again, that is not correct. I choose to work with them because I liked it. First, I choose a script, the role, then the director, co-stars and then producers, whereas there are people who look at the production house before they choose a film. If I do that, I will lose out on beautiful films like Laal Rang, I will lose out on Charles Sobhraj. Shah Rukh Khan wanted to play the character! I choose roles, box office aake chala jaata hain, reh jaati hain filmein. 50 years from now, people will still be able to access these films. So I am not concerned about the business at all. And I am not cast because of my box-office report. I am cast based on my acting ability and what I can deliver on screen. If a box-office success happens, what will happen? I will get a bigger filmmaker, a bigger story, a bigger star cast, and that’s fine because if that doesn’t work, I can always come back to these films.

But how can I lose on my baselines? I am not very materialistic. My parents wanted me to own a house and a car, which I have now. I don’t like partying or socialising, I am happy in my own space. I love horses and I spend money on them. Of course, if the numbers come in, it’s good for the producers. I am doing my part, acting, giving my best, promoting the film. That’s all I can do.

BOI: Does that apply to a film like Kick or Sultan?

RH: I had a great part in Kick. It’s a huge deal to play a role like that in a Salman Khan film. And I don’t think anybody will ever get a role like that in a Salman Khan film. So I was ‘kicked’ about Kick! I have only three friends in mainstream – Naseeruddin Shah, of course, then Salman Khan and Sajid Nadiadwala. Whichever role they offer me, I do it. I would do it even if they offered me the same role again. I did Sultan because the film features Salman Khan and I knew I would have a great time working with him. Apart from them, I look for content.

BOI: Kajal, you recently had a success in Telugu, titled Brahmotsavam. How different is the filmmaking process in both industries?

KA: Very different. Down South, we don’t concentrate much on promotions. After the launch happens, we give interviews. Also, there, we concentrate more on content.

RH: I am going to move to the South. Chaar mahine se interviews hi de
raha hoon!

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