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Killing It!

Lead actors of the upcoming film Wajah Tum Ho – Sana KhanSharman Joshi and Gurmeet Choudhary – in conversation with Team Box Office India

Box Office India (BOI): Sharman, you have worked with Vishal (Pandya) before. How did you land this project?

Sharman Joshi (SJ): I was in Hate Story 3 and he was working on this idea during that film’s promotion. He had nurtured the idea for a long time and decided to share it with me and the character I was going to play. I was extremely excited because, for the first time, I was getting to play a cop. He told me what kind of colour he was going to give it… a sense of humour and quiet aggression, and I was looking forward to being a part of it. Then he eventually wrote the script and I was absolutely amazed with what he came up with.

BOI: What about both of you? How were you approached?

Sana Khan (SK): T-Series is a big company and they make a lot of films. I approached them when I learnt that they were in the process of making Wajah Tum Ho and were casting. And that’s how I met Vishal. I think the moment we met, he thought I was perfect for the role of Siya. That’s how I am on board today.

Gurmeet Choudhary (GC): Vishal and I were to do Hate Story 3 but that didn’t happen. I always wanted to work with Vishal because he is very talented and has superb energy. He also has two back-to-back hits. I have always been saying that ek film tukke se hit ho sakti hai par dusri film tukke se hit nahin ho sakti hai. That means there is something special about him.

Hate Story 3 had good content. And if some people came to watch it because they thought it was erotic, they realized that the content and the story were good. Similarly, our film Wajah Tum Ho has very strong content. When Vishal gave me a narration, I thought nothing could be better for my second film and I said ‘yes’ to the film aur wajah jo hai woh Vishalhai.

BOI: Vishal’s films always have a revenge angle. Where does that figure in this film?

SJ: I would imagine that a murder mystery or a thriller would have some kind of revenge in the plot, either emotional or physical. This one is a combination of both and revenge is the driving force here. It is an edge-of-the-seat thriller that will make you keep guessing about the killer’s identity till the very end.

When we got our first narration, we just couldn’t guess who the killer was. It is extremely difficult to figure that out as it is cleverly written. Yet, the plot is tied together with logic. With thrillers, to throw you off-track, the plot often turns illogical. But this film is a complete experience because isme logic bhi hai and it will engage the audience to guess who the killer is till the end of the film.

BOI: Given the kind of film this is, it needed each actor to share a certain comfort with his or her co-actors. Were there any workshops to facilitate this?

SK: There were three sessions where we all met and this helped us get comfortable with each other. We also did quite a lot of rehearsals, initially, just for the script reading. Vishal is not a script-reading kind of person at all. He says, ‘I don’t like all this and I will do it once we go on the floors.’

GC: He says, ‘Just revise your lines, I will do the rest.’

SK: For a change, he held reading sessions for three days, so that the actors got to meet each other and get comfortable with each other because it is a very serious film.

BOI: Gurmeet, you said you wanted to work with Vishal since Hate Story 3. Did this film confirm your notions about Vishal as a director?

GC: He was very clear that he would make Hate Story 3 because it was a very good franchise and people already knew about Hate Story. He was also very clear about this film, that he did not want to go into the erotic zone. When he gave me a narration two years ago, I really liked it and decided that it was a film I had to do.

When we shoot for a film, we are all well-versed in our lines but it was the first time I had seen a director do his research work so thoroughly. There is nothing fake about the film at all. So, if there is a hacker in the scene, he is a real hacker. I loved this about him. He doesn’t only focus on the dialogue or screenplay, he does his research very well.

BOI: You said you like to watch a film as a member of the audience. From that perspective, what you feel the audience should look forward to?

SJ: Thrills and a story that is very complex and yet so simple. It is very well balanced by the writers, Vishal and Sameer Arora, who is also doing the story and the screenplay. This is supported by great dialogue by Rashmi (Singh), one which is going to engage with great characterisation. It’s sone pe suhaga jo hum bolte hai. It’s a combination of a lot of things with great songs, which T-Series is known for. So it’s a complete package.

BOI: The songs in the film have been recreated. Did that come with any baggage? Also, the title track has three versions…

SK: Yes, the title track has three versions, the normal version, the lounge version and the unplugged version. Of course, there is baggage because when you remake an old song, bohot gaaliya milti hai if it’s not done correctly, especially when it is a romantic song. People always say the song has been ruined.

Dil ke paas and Aise tum mujhe na dekho… These songs have been played in every household. So, when you recreate an evergreen number, it is very important that you mix it in the right way, so that it has a very today flavour while also maintaining the essence of the old song.

The first time Vishal made me listen to the song Paal paal, it was very rough. I had listened to just four lines and I was, like, ‘Vishal, this is so good.’ When I heard Aise na mujhe tum dekho, I was desperately waiting for this song to get shot. Gurmeet was, like, ke please main parde ke piche se ek passing shot de sakta hu kya (Laughs). When Mahi ve was shot, I told Gurmeet that I was finally able to understand what it felt like when a good song is shot and one is not a part of it.

As Vishal says, old songs have great recall value but I think new songs have charm too. Like Wajah tum ho is a new romantic number and I am sure that a few years down the line, someone will remake this song.

BOI: Can each one of you tell us something about your respective characters?

GK: I am playing a lawyer, Randhir Bajaj, for the first time. Sana and I are both playing lawyers. In the film, we love each other but are professional rivals. The songs and promos will tell you that we have good chemistry and in the songs too and we are fighting. Vishal would always tell me to rehearse my lines well but he would indicate just how he wanted me to deliver them. I did exactly as Vishal asked me to do.

SK: I also play a lawyer in the film, Siya Sharma. I always believe that when you wear a costume like that, the responsibility and authority it carries comes in automatically. When we were kids, we would wear our mother’s sari and we used to feel that we were mummies too. That is what happens when you are shooting for a film, regardless of the character you play. So, when I wore the lawyer’s garb, I was, like, ‘Oh my God, I wish I was a lawyer, my mother would have been so proud!’

I think the girl has to be very strong and she has to have a mind of her own. She is not someone who can be easily influenced to let someone seize the upper hand. It was very important that she look smart and intellectual and capable of taking the decisions she has to take.

I am a very talkative person and Vishal had to give me a complete image makeover. He would always tell me to go slow with my lines and ‘make this scene your scene’. I speak very fast and if my lines required me to speak for 30 seconds, I used to say them in 10 seconds. He was, like, ‘I can add more lines, seeing the amount of time you are taking.’ In that way, I learnt a lot.

Through this film, I have learnt to act. In fact, for me, this has been an acting course from Vishal. I can’t act in a natural way as I am a very over-the-top person, very animated. So it was very difficult for me but when I did it and watched it on the monitor, I was, like, ‘Yes, Vishal, you were right!’ And he said, ‘I know I am right.’

SJ: It’s the first time I am playing the role of a cop. It was very interesting and there are many one-liners that were a delight to me, as an actor. Vishal has the ability to draw the best out of an actor. So it was a treat. Not many directors spend so much time on their actors but Vishal is very well prepared. So while shooting, he spends time with the actors, he invests time in them and tries to get the best performances out of the actors.

I have an 8-year-old daughter in the film. The little girl who played the role was absolutely amazing. She’s quite an actor and, as they say, when you work with a good actor, your performance improves. And that’s what happened here. I used to watch the girl perform and was inspired by her to perform even better. She used to get it right in the first take. She was a charming actress to work with, and our scenes together went very smoothly.

BOI: You said there were workshops and preparation for the characters. Is it easy or difficult to get out of a character?

SJ: I relied largely on my instincts and the script and then on the director’s vision of how he sees it. Generally, I go with the flow and can easily switch on and off because staying in that frame of mind does not work for me. I lose the edge and the surprise element. When I go in front of the camera, I pitch or throw or deliver a line in a certain way which is not rehearsed. I just go with the flow. That always surprises me too and eventually it adds to the character. But each one has their own approach and there is no right or wrong.

SK: I am a very hyperactive person and I am never in character but Gurmeet is so much in character. He also gets out of the character very easily. But when he is in character, you can’t even talk to him, which makes me forget my lines.

GC: I prepare a lot. To get myself in character, I prepare by staying alone for long periods of time or listening to music. And I like to stay in the same mood. But then you are facing Sana Khan, who tells Vishal she’s come with no preparation and will shoot according to his instructions. She doesn’t let you speak. Even when you pause, she continues to talk.

SK: Gurmeet speaks so softly that it is hard to keep up with him. We have several scenes where we had to shoot standing close to each other. But Gurmeet speaks so softly that it seemed as if he was whispering. So I used to end up blurting out the lines as per my wishes. He pauses for so long that I had to tell him that my expression had already changed!

BOI: Was it difficult to shoot the erotic scenes?

SK: While shooting the erotic scenes, we behaved as if we didn’t know each other. We disowned each other and we didn’t talk to each other. We behaved as if we were doing each other a favour. We were desperate to get done with those scenes. So each of those scenes was done in one take.

GC: I had to be very careful while touching her because she would scream that her make-up was ruined or if I touched her hair, she used to scream that her curls were ruined. Luckily, we have good chemistry in the film. It’s good and it’s not very obvious. But only we know under what circumstances we shot for this film.

BOI: Where does this film feature in your career graph?

SJ: High up there. I have not been part of many thrillers in my career. I had done Raqeeb a few years ago, which sadly didn’t work. And then Hate Story 3 and now this film. But I think this one tops the list. There are not many thrillers made in India. Filmmaking is a director’s job and not many directors want to make thrillers. So as a thriller out of India, I think it is right up there.

BOI: Sana, you are starting your career with this film.

SK: It’s definitely a good start. I don’t think I could have found a better film than this one to be introduced to Bollywood. Along with me, a new concept is being launched in Bollywood. It is the debut of this concept too. No one has tried this concept of hacking a satellite and showing a live murder. And this has never ever happened in Bollywood before. It’s a very Hollywood concept.

When you watch the film, you will not be able to tell whether or not it’s a Bollywood film. If you remove the songs, it won’t seem like a Bollywood film in any way. Only the songs and language lend it a Bollywood feel. It is so beautifully done. Which actor wouldn’t want to be part of a film that is memorable, especially when it is your first film. Till today, people remember me as a Bigg Boss participant and I want to grow from that. I am sure when Wajah Tum Ho releases, people will remember me by this film.

BOI: Gurmeet, would you also call this film a stepping stone for you?

GC: Yes, as an actor, you want to work with a good producer and a good director, who can make a good film. I think this movie has all three things. It has a very powerful concept and in today’s day and age, the concept of the film is very important. If the concept is good, people will definitely come and watch the film.

BOI: Are you happy with the final product?

SJ: Yes, absolutely. We are very happy with how the film has turned out. Many times, the final product is different from what is written on paper. But Vishal has handled it very well. Right from direction to the performances, the story and the flow, I’m very happy with it.

BOI: What’s next for each one of you?

SJ: Sana and I are doing a film called Tom, Dick And Harry Returns. We have just begun shooting it and are approaching the end of the first schedule.

GC: It is very important for me that this film performs well at the box office. A lot depends on the way it is received. But I have locked one script, which I start shooting for in January. 

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