August 21, 2021 8:11:37 am
BellBottom director Ranjit Tewari said he opened a champagne bottle the day actor Akshay Kumar agreed to do the film. This is his second directorial after Lucknow Central (2017) where he had Farhan Akhtar playing the lead. “Coming from Kolkata and making a film in Bombay with Farhan was already a dream come true. Then Akshay sir doing your second film, you can’t express that joy in words. God has been kind to me. I couldn’t contain my happiness, I opened a champagne bottle at home,” Tewari told indianexpress.com.
BellBottom had a theatrical release this week, also opening up cinema halls after the second lockdown due to the pandemic ended. The film, also starring Lara Dutta, Vaani Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Adil Hussain and others, opened to mostly positive reviews.
“The screens have come back to action. People are vaccinated now, so situation is brighter. So they can go out and have a family time,” Tewari added, reiterating how proud he was to pull off the shooting of the film that became the first to go on floors when things eased out last year. “When we could shoot in the pandemic, taking the risk of travelling 200 people to a different country, what can be more risky than that? So you have to go and release it in the best possible scenario. You can’t hold onto a film for a year,” he said while asserting that a theatrical release might be a difficult decision, but that was the only choice.
BellBottom is a period drama set in the 80s which aims to narrate India’s first covert operation that took place in 1984 after an airplane hijack. It has Akshay Kumar playing a RAW agent who spearheads the task with the code name ‘BellBottom’.
Speaking further about directing a superstar like Akshay, and whether there’s a pressure involved when the actor is probably bigger a name than the project, Tewari said, “It’s challenging, but the challenge is created by yourself. Akshay sir is not putting any pressure. He’s actually easing it out. But because he’s such an enormous star, it takes a while to realise that, but once you do, you start functioning as it is supposed to be. Then he also gives you that comfort, discussion and respect. That helps you in the journey to just focus. Our job is to entertain people so being judged is a natural thing. You got to accept it. Then things become easy.”
BellBottom has been hogging headlines ever since its trailer released recently, for the incredible transition of Lara Dutta into former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Ranjit Tewari called getting Lara onboard for the role “Akshay sir’s card.” According to him, the main challenge was to get Lara’s look right. “Lara is a great actor, a strong woman and has so much poise. But what could we do physically with her. We had a great team so eventually things fell in place. We were expecting such a reaction as we ourselves were surprised when we saw her. When my editor Chandan Arora watched the rushes of the film, he called me and asked where was Lara,” Tewari shared with a smile.
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We might have had numerous spy thrillers in the past, but for Tewari, BellBottom has a newness to the narrative and an individuality to the story. The director revealed that he is also trying to learn to see through the screenplay which can translate to good cinema.
“Sometimes the writing is great but it doesn’t transfer into the kind it should. Sometimes reading is better than the visual experience. So that marriage of writing to visual is a part I want to learn and improve as much from day one. In fact everyone should learn that.”
But how much of a pressure he feels when directing someone like Farhan Akhtar who himself is a director? “In such scenario, you can’t get away with anything because you know exactly what is happening behind the camera. So the moment you know he’s listening to you, you know he’s in sync with you. Whatever the film’s result is, if there isn’t any contradiction, there’s no problem. Farhan is one of the coolest guys,” Tewari said.
The director concluded by saying that for now, he wants people to return to theatres and watch BellBottom, with all safety protocols.
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