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Team Bang BangVijay Singh, CEO, Fox Star Studios, along with lead pair Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif – in conversation with team Box Office India

Box Office India (BOI): Why did you decide to remake Knight And Day?

Vijay Singh (VS): We got the idea two or three years ago. At the time, we wanted to make a fun film, a Bollywood masala film. After plenty of brainstorming, we zeroed in on Knight And Day. But we have used Knight And Day only as inspiration and the film underwent a classic Hollywood development process. We got writers on board and they spent six months writing the film. We then got Siddharth (Anand) on board and the entire process went through…

BOI: You had no cast in mind then?

VS: We did but, today, every actor wants to see a script before they okay a project.

BOI: And it is very difficult to get hold of Hrithik.

VS: Or Katrina, for that matter. (Laughs)

Hrithik Roshan (HR): Now why would you guys say that?

BOI: It’s difficult to convince you with a script.

HR: A good script will take only 5 seconds to convince me!

VS: As I was saying, we got Siddharth on board and then we went to Hrithik and he said yes. Then we reached out to Katrina, and getting her was not easy. After she said yes, we figured we were sorted and all we had to do was manage production. But the project has been through a heck of a lot of challenges but the team stuck together. Things got more complicated because we had a lot of foreign technicians working on the film and balancing that was not easy. There was a genuine concern with regard to Hrithik’s health and I will let Hrithik talk about those issues. Finally, we are all here now, just days before the film’s release, and we have a cracking film.

BOI: In an earlier interview to us, you had said that you took five minutes to say yes to the Agneepath remake and it was the same with Bang Bang. Why do people think you take ages to decide on a project?

HR: It’s been that way with all my films. I have said I wanted to do them in one minute flat!

BOI: What was it about Bang Bang that made you agree?

HR: I had actually watched Knight And Day on a flight months before Sid actually thought of making it. I had thought to myself that this film had the potential to be remade in Hindi. It had all those elements. One month later, Sid called me and said he wanted to make a film and when he said it was Knight And Day, I told him I was thinking the same thing! So I said I was on and that I would like to see the script. We spent another six to seven months focusing on something that was more in my space, more the kind of stuff I would want to do and not just a remake. After we did that, we assumed we were done with the difficult part; we didn’t realise the really tough part would unfold when we went to Katrina. (Laughs)

And, mind you, it wasn’t the producer who approached Katrina, nor the director. It was both the producer, director and actor who went to Katrina. Ki lijiye, maam, yeh script hai hamari, please do it. Now that the film is complete, she has finally agreed that she is on board! (Laughs)

So that was the journey apart from the other problems we faced. It is my biggest victory and it is a great example to show my kids when they are faced with challenges, where things seemed impossible and there was no reason to go on. I love the fact that I was gifted with this challenge and that I managed to turn the negativity into a very positive outlook, where I said that because of what’s happened in my life, we are going to make sure that we as a team would make this film the best film that has ever been made.

It was a very constructive process instead of a negative one, where we could have so easily said that kuch na kuch toh ho hi jayega. Instead, we said we had to be the best and the biggest. We pushed ourselves in every single way. And that is why we are here and excited, and the teasers have drawn a fantastic reaction, the promos, every song has generated a lot more for the film. I think we are moving in the right direction.

This is solely a Siddharth Anand film and he has surprised me. Usually, I am part of everything in my film, even the background or in every frame, so I know what to expect. When I watched this film, I told Siddharth that I was very impressed with the way he had captured the scenes. It was a new experience for me to watch it as a member of the audience, not just as an actor. Sid has done an incredible job. He did not give up on anything. He could have but he didn’t. He pushed his limits, just like I like to do. I am very proud of him.

BOI: How much did you use the original film as a reference point?

HR: It was the germ. But our film is very Indian. So, if you were not aware that this was a remake of Knight And Day, you wouldn’t know that this film was made on those lines.

BOI: Katrina, how did you agree to do Bang Bang?

HR: We just went to her and banged her head on the table twice and she agreed! (Laughs)

Katrina Kaif (KK): Pretty much like that.

HR: We gave her good food.

KK: So I…

HR: (Cuts in) We took her to Prague and some nicer places, some travel… all that got her excited. Finally, she asked me what the story was. And she liked that too.

KK: Well, you can choose whichever version you want!

BOI: You are using a very different marketing strategy for this film. For instance, this is the first time a film has no actual trailer. You have released only a teaser followed by songs and now the dialogue promos.

VS: Before answering that, I want to know what kind of feedback you people are receiving?

BOI: When the teaser released, it was fabulous.

VS: Obviously, there is not one India we are talking about. The audience across this country is very different and unique.

BOI: Initially, people were wondering what the film was all about but as soon as the teaser released, that cleared up. And every song is building anticipation among the audience.

HR: But what is its reach like? Is it reaching out to the film-going audience?

BOI: Yes.

VS: It should not appeal only to the Bandra-to-Lokhandwala audience.

HR: So what does that really mean? Is the content enough to make people want to see the film? My point is, if the content is good, do we really need to do? And how much do we actually need to do?

BOI: The teaser and the songs that are playing everywhere will definitely get you a fabulous opening.

HR: Exactly! All the marketing we have done is for the opening. So it will be a good opportunity for us to learn how much a film can garner in terms of the desire to watch that film. By the sourcing of its content, by the excitement, by just making people aware that this film is releasing on October 2, and this is the content of the film. Is that enough for the film-going audience to say, haan yaar, yeh film toh dekhni hi hai. It is enough for Bang Bang.

But if this was Guzaarish, then of course you do a lot more, then you create the wanting, create the buzz and let the audience know what the film is about. But Bang Bang is the kind of film that is already in demand. This film has everything, it has romance, action, and the cool quotient. It has everything that you’re looking for in one film.

VS: (Cuts in) And it has fantastic-looking people and great actors.

HR: I will let him add that. (Smiles)

VS: One thing we are very clear about is we have everything in the film, from action to romance, good music and lot more to watch out for. It’s a very good-looking film and it’s a fun film. Let me put it this way… it’s a typical holiday film. We thought the teaser should give the audience just a glimpse of what the film is all about and it worked big time. But I think the important message here is the teaser does not cheat. It is a genuine glimpse into the film.

We also have peppy songs so we decided to promote Bang Bang differently. So we released the teaser, then the songs, the dialogue promos and, we thought we would go the other way around, by releasing the trailer at the end. Since we are in the trade, we know the teaser is not really the trailer but to the audience, it was a trailer. Also, the songs have created so much buzz and everything is working in favour of the film.

HR: (Cuts in) It’s not the first time this has happened. When I did Dhoom 2, there was no trailer, there was no teaser there were only songs. And it was my biggest film at that time.

BOI: Katrina, we digressed a bit. What made you say yes to Bang Bang?

KK: When Sid offered me the script, I think even before he went to Hrithik, I asked him why this film? It seemed like a really difficult film to make and I was going strictly scene to scene and with exact sequences of what happens in Knight And Day. We spoke about it and he came back to me later and said it was his interpretation of the film, this is what he wanted to do with the film. By then, Hrithik had already stepped in and Fox was already on board, so I took very little time and I said yes. My director and I have been in touch from a very long time, he is a fun guy to be around, he is a very nice person and I like keeping in touch with him. So that’s how it all happened. The girl’s character he wrote had some unusual stuff without being very traditional. So the journey my character lives is very interesting and very well written.

HR: I honestly believe, this is Katrina’s best role to date. Do you agree?

KK: Umm… No. I wouldn’t because the best role can only be decided by the outcome.

HR: True, but it’s my personal opinion.

KK: Oh, you mean one of the best roles I have portrayed to date?

HR: Yes.

KK: What do you mean by ‘best role’? ‘Best’ role on paper or best role performed?

HR: Best role on paper first and then the best performance you have delivered.

KK: Hmmm. Unbelievable, no? I will only believe that because you are saying so.

HR: No even then you will not believe it because you will believe only what you want to believe.

KK: That’s not true.

HR: Yes, even if we say it was really good, you keep saying, ‘No, I wasn’t good.’

KK: Oh, really? That’s what I do? Just cry and kick stuff around?

HR: Of course! Even when we complimented you, you would say, ‘No I don’t think so.’

KK: When people say I am fantastic in the film, I always say, ‘Yeah, absolutely!’

HR: OK, so we agree. Let’s shake hands on that.

KK: It has to be the general consensus. It can’t be a minute minority. It has to be a medium consensus.

HR: Minute minority, huh? In fact, unless it’s a 100 per cent, I will not take you up on that.

KK: OK, 85 per cent?! OK, 90?

HR: Done! (Shakes hands with Katrina)

VS: You know this is what they do even in the film. (Laughs)

KK: Coming back to your question… I think the process of this journey is one of those connected to the universe kind of situations. That destiny is pre-written. There was the journey of the film and there was another ride altogether, which nobody expected. For the initial shoot, we landed up in Thailand, chilling out. I thought there would be some action but it would be smooth sailing. I was sitting happily on a beach thinking of the flight I was to take to Prague the next day, when suddenly my manager Sandhya called me to say that Hrithik had to undergo surgery for his back. I thought, ‘OK, that’s normal.’ And, then, she called me back to say he would have to have a blood clot removed from his brain. I was, like, ‘What?’ That was totally unexpected. Also, all of us being in a boat with massive storm waves, where people actually thought they were going to die.

HR: It was crazy. We were all holding on to things. I was singing songs, being a little spiritual.

KK: Being spiritual? Singing songs like Bare Necessities? That’s not a spiritual song! In fact, there is a video I recorded of Hrithik singing that song in a loud voice. I will show you that video where there is a 30-foot wave and Hrithik Roshan decided to sing Bare Necessities and other people were putting on life jackets and are crying. There were people in the boat who couldn’t swim and they thought they were going to die! (Shows the video to Team BOI)

HR: The waves were so high that the boat was going to tip over. On one side, you could see the waves rising and on the other, all you could see was the sea. If the boat swung a little more, our boat would have capsised. Actually, the making of the film is a true action film. The action in the movie is nothing compared to all the action behind the camera.

KK: Yes, and something else also happened. Our planes took off from Greece and hit a storm, so we had to fly back and try and land in the storm.

HR: She got a seat on that plane, her flight took off and we were left at the airport. We were all thinking that Katrina was lucky to have left whereas and we were all stranded at the airport. But as fate would have it… (Laughs)

KK: (Cuts in) I went to the island, hit the storm and came back. Everything happened to me in transit, I don’t know why, this happened to me in Delhi again. I was in Delhi about to board a flight for Kashmir and there was a terrorist attack. Despite that, I wanted to go there. The CM reassured us that everything was safe and I told Hrithik if God forbid, something does happen to us, we will die as legends and martyrs. (Laughs)

HR: We truly got bang-banged while making this film. But we banged-banged right back!

BOI: Vijay, this is your biggest film as a producer. When all this was happening while shooting, how disturbing was it for you?

VS: It was a very tough film to make. It was our first big-budget film. And, obviously, all this does affect budgets. The question that arose was what happens when the film is made? I believe that the company was committed despite the challenges. We believed in the film and kept hanging there, not just us but the credit goes to everybody. Any one of the team members could have just said, ‘No, I want to get off the ship.’ We had very talented foreign technicians also attached to the film. So I think that makes this journey and the end product doubly sweet as everyone worked extremely hard. And I do believe that Bang Bang will be the best film of the year.

BOI: This is the director Siddharth Anand’s first action film…

HR: Yes, and I think that, with this film, he has found himself as a director. He is actually an action filmmaker because of the kind of work he has done on this film. He reminded me of my father so many times while handling the scale of the scenes in this film. It is bigger than Krrish as this film has been shot on location. So it was a very difficult film for a director to lead and to keep the entire team motivated while keeping his own focus intact. This was a one-man show. Bang Bang is Sid Anand’s vision. All credit goes to him.

BOI: Now that the film is ready, has the journey been worth it?

HR: Absolutely. It is always worth it as long as you give it your best.

BOI: The release is fabulously timed.

VS: Yes, it is a five-day weekend and what most people actually don’t know is that the first day of the release is actually a dry day. So people will have to come to cinemas. I remember having some really interesting discussions about the release day, also because I believe that this five-day weekend is one of those rarest of rare ones that you get only once in a couple of years.

BOI: What are your plans for the international release?

VS: The film is a very diaspora-friendly film and will enjoy the widest Hindi film release internationally, more than any other Bollywood film so far. We are also in talks with the official authorities in China as we are looking to release the film there. China has a rule that only 40 international films can release in their market in a single year. And I think the intent is to make this Hrithik and Katrina’s biggest film ever.

KK: Vijay has learnt his lesson. He just gave an interview where he said, ‘We intend to make this film Hrithik’s biggest release.’ So I told him whatever happened to me?

VS: Yes, see I am a quick learner. (Laughs)

KK: If this will be one of my biggest films, then it will make more than Dhoom: 3, which is good right? So now he has started mentioning my names in all his interviews!

BOI: Final word… What are your expectations from Bang Bang now that the film is only a week away from its release?

HR: I just hope everyone watches it and enjoys as much as we have. I am expecting the best out of this film as it has been my best journey so far.

KK: Expectations… I don’t know but, as with every film you make, you want it to do well. And with this film, there has literally been blood, sweat and tears shed.

VS: A) It is a complete family film and B) I believe it has repeat value, it’s a feel-good kind of film. As you walk out of the auditorium, you will have that sense of feeling good. The chemistry between them is fabulous in the film and people might think it is an action film and will be emotionally dry. But that’s not true.

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