Director Anurag Singh, whose Kesari has hit screens, believes having a superstar in a movie helps in reaching out to a wider audience. Kesari has Akshay Kumar, one of the most bankable actors of Hindi cinema, headlining its star cast. It also has Parineeti Chopra playing a small part.
Recently, at a press conference in New Delhi, we asked Anurag if having an A-lister adds to the reach of a movie and he promptly replied, “Definitely.”
“There is an advantage of having superstars because they have a fan following. People have their emotions attached to them. It is an added advantage for a filmmaker that your actor not only does his part well but also brings along with him the superstardom. So, there is already a fanbase which is ready to watch the story you want to tell. But apart from that, we not only need superstardom. The actor must have that ability to portray a character which was there in Akshay sir,” Anurag Singh added.
Anurag is a popular name in the Punjabi film industry, courtesy, the success of his films Jatt and Juliet and Punjab 1984, both starring Diljit Dosanjh in the lead role. Punjab 1984, just like Kesari, was a period drama. It chronicled the lives of common people of Punjab after the tragic and turbulent events of 1984.
Asked if he has an inclination towards period dramas, the director said, “Not necessarily. I am inclined towards good subjects. It is always about the story. If you like the story, then things like which period it is set in come in much later as that is the commercial aspect of it. If you have to invest 2-2.5 years of your life in a project, you should be passionate about it.”
During the promotional event, Akshay Kumar and Parineeti Chopra heaped praise on Anurag Singh for his preparedness which made filming the war drama easier for them. The director also revealed that he tried to read and watch all the available content on the film’s subject.
Deliberating on his research for Kesari, he revealed, “Some of the research material was available on the internet. I also sourced books that were written by the Britishers, their biographies and an account of that era when Afghani invaders tried to enter India. But not much has been written about it in Punjabi literature. Only one or two books were available. I and my team read them and as much as we could take from them that matched our vision, we took it.”
Anurag Singh has returned to Bollywood after over a decade. His first Bollywood film Raqeeb was released in 2007 but it tanked at the ticket counters. So, what was it that made him choose Kesari to re-enter the Hindi film industry?
He replied, “I knew the story of the Battle of Saragarhi but had no idea that I will be making a film on it. When I joined the industry and started working on it, I came to know that there are more people interested in the same subject. But it was never the thought that I will work on it because so many people are interested in it. But as they say, some things are in your destiny. I was called by Akshay sir and Karan sir that there is a film being made on the historic battle and we want you to direct it. I was not only surprised but also very happy about getting this opportunity.”
The historic battle of Saragarhi has previously inspired a television series 21 Sarfarosh – Saragarhi 1897 (2018), starring Mohit Raina. Ajay Devgn and Randeep Hooda were also reportedly working on the subject.