In his two-decade long career, Sanjay Gupta has given Bollywood some fascinating action movies. Some films like Shootout at Wadala and Kaante readily come to one’s mind. He is geared up for his next release Kaabil starring Hrithik Roshan and Yami Gautam in lead roles. In an interview with indianexpress.com, Sanjay Gupta talks about Kaabil and life beyond movies. Below are some excerpt from the interview.
You have worked on many action movies. Some of them revolve around gangsters. What made you pick Kaabil?
I didn’t set out to make a film about two visually impaired people. That wasn’t the intention. I felt Kaabil as a story had a lot of potential. The very premise of two visually-impaired people who fall in love, their love story, how things go wrong and what a man does to wreck vengeance fascinated me. I found the possibility of this story is very fascinating.
Usually, Bollywood filmmakers have a tendency to depict visually impaired people in a melodramatic manner. How have you dealt with the subject?
That is precisely what we have completely stayed away from. Often, the entire outlook towards a visually-impaired person is that of sympathy. However, when you spend time with these people, you know that they aren’t looking for your sympathy. They are very happy in their own space. They lead a very comfortable life. There is no becharagiri. That’s what we have done with the film as well. I think visually-impaired people are more normal than me and you are.
Watch | Hrithik Roshan says he is ‘Kaabil’ of doing everything:
Kaabil is your third film set in Mumbai. Tell us about how differently Mumbai is shot in Kaabil?
I am a Bombay boy. I was born and brought up here. I know this city inside out. The beauty of Mumbai is that every time you set a story here, you are offered a different landscape. Shootout At Wadala depicted ‘80s Bombay, whereas the city shown in Jazbaa is the Bombay of today. So there is a huge difference in the landscape shown in these films. Kaabil is set in a completely new space. In Kaabil, you will look at a pleasant, nice-looking side of this city.
Was Ronit Roy your first choice for the role of a villain in Kaabil?
Yes. Ronit Roy and Rohit Roy are dear friends of mine. We meet very often. We exercise in the same gym. I have known Ronit for years and I think he is a stupendous actor. I was very sure that he will do justice with the character that we wrote in Kaabil.
Do you think Ronit Roy’s character in the film is more interesting than that of lead character’s?
No. Why will that be the case?
What made you choose Yami Gautam for playing the lead actress?
We wanted somebody who didn’t come with baggage or a set image. She had to look like a simple, next-door girl and at the same time perform like a dream. Yami was the obvious choice.
You have worked in Bollywood for more than 20 years. What changes do you see in the industry?
On one level, the industry is exactly the way it was 30 years ago. On another level, a lot has changed. The change is not much in the industry as it is in the audience. The change is in the taste of the audience. The audience is accepting a lot more non-formula films. As a matter of fact, they are completely rejecting formula films. The audience has given the industry a new-found freedom and dimension. We are doing things which we didn’t do earlier and if we don’t do those things, the audience will reject our films outright.
Have you managed to make the kind of films you want to make?
One is always striving to do well. With each new film, one tries to take some challenges. The best part is when you overcome those challenges and shine. We have just seen the first print of the film today at 6:30 am with main crew. Suddenly, the film looks like a cakewalk. But it has been my toughest film. Kaabil was not an easy film to shoot. It has taken a lot from me to make the movie.
What keeps you inspired?
My children keep me inspired. I am a late bloomer. I became a father in my forties. My children are now four and six years old. The shelf life of a director in Bollywood is not very long. If you notice, there are very few who have gone on to work for almost 3-4 decades. I am in my third decade. I completed 24-odd years in the business. I need to keep going for my children. By the time they become teenagers and understand life better, at that time I will still want to stay relevant and make movies. I don’t want my children to say my father used to be a director.
You have to keep reinventing yourself. You have to keep experiencing life. My life is not just about films. I have a life beyond movies. It’s important to get detached from it. I think that it’s a mix or balance of everything that keeps you going.
A lot has been said about Raees Kaabil clash. What are your thoughts?
I am not worried about Raees and Kaabil clash. It’s just that it’s unfortunate. And it’s unethical. But now it’s happening. So, what one can say. I hope both films work do well.