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Keeping It Real

Making a non-fiction feature film means balancing a reality against entertainment

Making a film based on a real-life incident is not a very popular trend in India, nor have we been able to do it successfully. Shootout At Lokhandwala is the only film in this genre that was non-fiction and that also had a huge star cast. Making it entertaining, keeping the commercial aspect in mind and including good music is where we scored. And that’s precisely what we are doing with Shootout At Wadala.

The story has inherent shock value, which is why we chose the topic. Films rooted in reality need to have shock value. You then dramatise the characters and certain situations to suit your screenplay. The story lends itself to very good cinema.

When you make a film based on real people, their families may object for a number of reasons. You have to be prepared for that. When we began working on Shootout At Wadala, the first entity to come on board was a law firm.

Naturally, the reality aspect is the USP of the film but it is not our intention to cash in on people’s private lives. We are showing our version of the story based on certain incidents. We are talking to friends, relatives, the police and gangsters to collect as much information as possible, so that we present an entertaining story.

Noted writer S Hussain Zaidi came on board because of his experience as a crime reporter. He has been covering crime for more than 20 years and knows these real people on a daily basis, not because he wrote Black Friday, which was latter turned into a film.Action in films like these cannot be of the scale of Dabangg or Singham, where 20 cars are blown up in a single scene. In Wadala, we are going to use a camera that has not been used in our cinema to date. It will be able to capture what the human eye sometimes misses. It will be like what Sam Peckinpah did in Wild Bunch. He was the one who captured blood oozing when a bullet was fired.

There are two filmmakers I look up to when it comes to action – Tony Scott and Ridley Scott. Depending on your story, you can go back to the place where the real incident took place. People say action goes to your head. That happens only when it is mindless.Researching your content is very, very important. For Shootout at Wadala, we are gathering information from books like Black Friday, Julio Rebeiro’s autobiography, Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City and Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games. Right now, I have gangsters on my mind!

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