Rajkummar Rao, who plays an Gujarati entrepreneur in Made In China, along with co-star Mouni Roy and director Mikhil Musale in conversation with Anita Britto share the experience of shooting this quirky film, the idea where this film stemmed from and working with some of the finest co-actors in the recently released film
Mikhil, who was the inspiration behind Made In China and why did you choose this as your first film?
Mikhil Musale (MM): This was one newspaper article narrated by my co-writer, three-four years back and that one line itself was so interesting- the story was of a businessman going to China, fetching something and coming back and become not just a millionaire but also creating an impact. So this story stayed with me for very long, it took a lot of time to perceive and make it into one film and now finally everything is falling in place. It was quite a journey for me, the same as Raghu’s (protagonists name) in the film.
Raj and Mouni what were your first thoughts before taking up this film?
Rajkummar Rao RR): Dinoo (Dinesh Vijan) our producer came on the sets of Stree when we were shooting in Chanderi and he told me very briefly about the idea of Made In China and told that he wants to make it and asked what I thought about it. I got very excited about the idea itself and I told him it’s a great story and that we should definitely make it together. Then I came back to Bombay and met Mikhil and our two writers. I loved it; it’s a very unique, quirky and funny tale of an aspiring struggling Gujarati businessman.
Mouni Roy (MR): It was a no brainer for me. Mikhil was directing it, Maddock was producing it and I got to star opposite Rajkummar Rao and on top of it, the story is brilliant. I wanted to do something after Gold that had a great story and a great script and this was perfect.
Making a comedy about sex can be tricky...
RR: It’s not a sex comedy at all; sex is just part of it. It’s not at all a vulgar sex comedy. It’s an aspirational film, it is so real, the characters so relatable that you feel like you know these people. Every middle-class family has seen and done the things we are doing in the film. For us, it was never about feeling shy while about talking about sex. Raghu is a guy who got an idea from China and now he has to sell that, it is all about how he manages to start his business and that’s where people will get their dose of comedy.
MM: It’s not that we are dealing with this issue for the first time with this film, it has been done before. We have been through a lot of research with my writers for months; we caught on to what exactly the problems are. There is a lot of information but at the same time, there is a lot of confusion. We have worked with the best sexologists also to understand the matter; our idea is was to deal with this issue in an entertaining yet insightful way. We are very confident about the approach we have chosen to tell the story.
The cast is brilliant, on the one hand we have Boman Irani and on the other hand, we have Paresh Rawal, how was the atmosphere on the sets with such stellar performers?
RR: It was great. For me, it was a learning experience working with these two stalwarts. I have been a huge admirer of their work, for me shooting the scenes with them for brilliant because they were creating these magic moments in the scene, they were adding so much in it. Apart from that, it was like an acting class going on, because, I was asking them so many questions, about their earlier performances, which have inspired me and encouraged me as an actor.
MR: I actually didn’t get the chance to work with them on this film. I just got to work with Boman sir in a song, but I hope there is one day soon that I get to work with them. My learning experience was with these two (Raj and Mikhil). The scene would be something else on paper and Mikhil would come and explain it to us in a certain way and then Raj would add so much more, so altogether it was like a soupy mixture of creating some good art on screen.
MM: This is a dream cast honestly. After they came on board, I was always on my toes, I was very scared. Till date before texting Raj I still think twice because there is a kind of admiration, of course, we are very close now, but having all of them who are so good at something that they have been doing, me technically being a first-timer, and getting it across the way it has to be done (was a daunting task). The kind of experience they bring in and get it so correct is amazing.
Mouni you were working with two National Award winners, were you intimidated by them?
MR: In the beginning yes when I heard that I will be working with Raj, and I wondered how will I be doing it, you question yourself whether or not will you be able to perform in front of somebody who is one of the finest actors in our country. But later on it was all good, it was challenging but the journey became very special because of how helpful he was.
And Raj and Mikhil since you both are National Award winners was there some kind of performance pressure?
RR: No pressure that I have to perform well, it’s a joy to create something new and surpass those challenges through my performance. Just few days before any of my film is on the verge of releasing it’s a mixed feeling. I am excited when I know we have made a good film that we all can be proud of, I was very eagerly waiting for people to see the film because it makes you laugh a lot and thoroughly entertains you. Also, it has some very quirky characters.
MM: We have tried to create a very interesting world. I just feel that people will resonate with that world now that it has released.
What is the one thing that you have learned through this journey?
MR: I have learned that you can turn the whole set into a high school musical. All you have to do is reach on set, then play a song and make sure that the whole units get up from their chairs and starts dancing like a flash mob and then start shooting.
RR: Actually, Mikhil has told me a lot of funny incidents like when during the research how they met a lot of sexologists and would ask them some weird questions and they would have even weirder answers to those questions. I think that was a learning experience for me, that even today people have so many misconceptions when it comes to sex.