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All Is Fair In WAR – In conversation with Siddharth Anand and Tiger Shroff

Director of WAR, Siddharth Anand and lead actor, Tiger Shroff talk to Bhakti Mehta about the action-thriller, working with Hrithik Roshan and the significance of getting a solo Hindi release

Siddharth, your last film Bang Bang! released on October 2 five years ago and now WAR released on the same day. Is October lucky for you?

Siddharth Anand (SA): I hope so! Fingers crossed! It is serendipity. When we announced WAR on September 27, 2017 we mentioned January 26, 2019 as the release date. But due to some delays in Hrithik’s (Roshan) film, Super 30, our date got pushed to October 2, 2019. The next date after January 26 that we found suitable was October 2. In fact, Anjaana Anjaani also came out on October 1, 2010. So my last three releases have been around or on October 2.

Tiger Shroff (TS): Siddharth, you have had a release every five years, right?

SA: Yes! I am worse than the leap year. (Laughs)

Tiger, in a recent interview to us Hrithik had said that he would not have done WAR without you.

TS: Is that true?

SA: All of us are on the same boat. Once you watch the film, you will understand how critical Tiger’s casting is to Khalid’s character. It is empirical. If he did not do the film, we would have to shift the film to another year or time or era when Tiger would say ‘yes’ to us.

TS: I think you are being extremely generous. The luck is completely mine. This coming from Hrithik sir, Siddharth sir and Adi (Aditya Chopra) sir means a lot to me. It puts a certain pressure on me as well to give them back (all the love) and assure them that they were not wrong in casting me.

Action films are a popular genre worldwide. When you are working with two of the biggest action heroes of the country, does that put a pressure on you to meet sky-high expectations, Siddharth?

SA: I think that makes it easier. In fact, taking two stars who are known for comedy and then making them do action is worse. Making a film with Hrithik and Tiger is not pressure. Somewhere it takes that pressure off you because you can rely on their box office appeal, their talent and skills to guide you through.

Tiger, everyone knows that you are a big fan of Hrithik Roshan. Take us back to the first day and scene that you shot with him.

TS: I am probably his biggest fan. I can challenge any fan. (Laughs) I was very, very nervous on my first day. Luckily it was a shot where we were standing face-to-face and it was not some takkar ka scene. We were standing next to each other. I did not even look at him once. I was just giving that shot as if it was just another Tiger Shroff film. I was not even thinking that there is this big star standing next to me. After that shot when he saw the frame, he complimented it. He told that it was looking good. Post that, things got easier, I submitted to him and I managed to perform with him to the best of my ability.

One of the biggest things that everyone is looking forward to is the dance-off between you and Hrithik. How was that experience? Were you nervous?

TS: For me, he’s the reason I started dancing in the first place and he was dancing with me in the same frame. What more could I have asked for?  I was nervous, excited and anxious to hear what he has to say. I was like a mixed bag of emotions when I came on set. I gave my hundred per cent to every shot. When you are dancing with the ‘God of Dance’, it is tough to look anywhere else and I had to constantly be on my toes. 

Siddharth, music has been a big part of your films. The songs of WAR have become chartbusters. How involved were you in the making of the music and how imperative it is to the storyline?

SA: Completely imperative! Music, whether it was the soundtrack or the background score, is really critical to my films. I am a big pain to my composers, whether it is the person who composes the BGM or Vishal and Shekhar. Vishal and Shekhar have composed for all my films. I am a nightmare for them.

Why so?

SA: I am not so easy to convince; I do not accept songs easily. You know it is such a huge process! When they know that I am coming to them with a film, they start practicing yoga. (Laughs) It is tough making good music because you have to second guess what millions of people will like; it is not just about what you like and what you think is good music. Your music needs to have the potential to be popular as well. I am not an indulgent filmmaker. I make commercial films and commercial music. So I look out for what the taste of the audience is going to be one year later.

Ghungroo is creating quite a buzz. It is our personal favourite song from the film.

SA: Thank you. I am glad. You have good taste. (Laughs)

There is a myth that a heroine does not have much to do in hardcore action films. Does WAR intend to change that?

SA: If you have watched my films, you will notice that women have consistently played very strong characters in them. That comes from my personal life. I don’t look at women as objects of glamour to accentuate my screen. They must be pivotal to the plot and they must have a voice. That is the kind of ethos I have. Vaani (Kapoor) is playing a very, very significant part in the film. She is the pivot of the film.

Tiger, you have learnt martial arts and have done many action films in the past. But did you have to unlearn something or learn something new to play your part in this film?

TS: The audiences have seen quite a bit of me in terms of action and dance. Sid sir convinced me to do something new. He told me that people have seen my strengths and I should try and break that mould. It is all about presenting a new package. I think we have been quite successful in doing so. Once you see the film, you will realise that there is a variety of action sequences and you will see a new me and even Hrithik sir for that matter. Both of us have pushed ourselves to our extreme ends and have tried to introduce something new. 

The industry is in a situation now where Fridays are crammed and it is difficult to get a solo release. WAR is the only Hindi film to release on October 2. Is it reassuring?

TS: An ideal situation would be to get a solo release. It is crucial. But you rightly said that there is so much content nowadays that we struggle to find dates. People book dates two to three years in advance. Having said that, ours is a heavenly situation. We have seen instances where all films have flourished despite releasing together. Bang Bang! came with Haider and both the films flourished. There is an audience for every film. We, as artistes and filmmakers, put so much into our films that it would be unfair to say, ‘Hope our film works and somebody else’s doesn’t.’ Everybody should get their due.

SA: It is important to get a solo release but it is not imperative. There is enough room for films to do well. You need to be confident of your product, that people will come and watch your films. If you look back at the last two to three years, all the eventful films have failed and all the smaller films with good content have worked. Their first day numbers were not even in double digits but their lifetime collections are in triple digits. A good film will eventually find its audience. But it is important for a tent pole film like ours to start strong. Ideally, we would have preferred a solo release, but three films from other industries (Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Joker and Gumnaami) are also coming with us. Somewhere the audience does have a choice. What we want is for them to come and watch our film and say that it is good. If I tell you that it is a good film, you will automatically go to watch it. We are not chasing big numbers; we are just chasing a positive word-of-mouth.

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