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Television star Abhinav Shukla talks about shooting for the action-adventure drama Roar in the dangerous terrain of Sunderbans

Written by Kaushani Banerjee | Mumbai |
Updated: August 15, 2014 1:00:47 am
Abhinav Shukla Abhinav Shukla

Launch Vehicle

I play this guy named Pundit, who is a special action group commando leader. When his brother, a wildlife photographer is attacked and killed in the Sunderbans, he decides to avenge his death. He is a trained soldier by profession, but he is seething with anger because of his brother’s death. Pundit with his team go in search of the tigress that killed his brother. He feels that since they are an elite commando team, they can hunt down an animal and kill it without realising that chasing an animal and a man are completely different.

Casting Coup

I auditioned and was selected for the lead role. Initially, I had auditioned for the character of Sufi. But they called me for a second audition that was happening at Mehboob Studios in Mumbai. During the second audition, I had no clue that they would sign me for the main lead. When they told me I would be playing the role of Pundit, I was extremely excited. However, the euphoria lasted a few seconds because I realised what a big responsibility it was since it is essentially Pundit’s story. I had never expected that I would be signed for a project as big as Roar.

Stepping Stone

In 2004, while I was still doing my engineering, I participated in the Gladrags competition. I got a call and I was the only one who made it to the regional level from New Delhi which was a big achievement for me and gave a big boost to my confidence. Apart from a few commercials I have also done a couple of television shows like Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai and Badalte Rishton Ki Dastaan.

First Shot

The first scene that I shot for was actually one of the last scenes of the movie. It is a wide angle shot where Himarsha (lead actress) and I are floating on a log in the middle of the ocean. They put us in the water and asked us to latch on to a log and float. The water in the Bay of Bengal is murky and there is very little information about the aquatic life. We became hypothermic, but there was no way of communicating with the crew who were 400 feet away and our walkie-talkie had also been taken away.

The Takeaway

Roar is my dream project. I had always wanted to play an army guy. The entire film has been a learning experience. I remember this incident, when the equipment suffered a technical snag while shooting with the helicam guys. We had almost cancelled the shoot for the next day, but then I utilised my knowledge of engineering and along with the technicians worked on the helicam from 6 in the evening to 3 o’clock in the morning and managed to fix it. My director, Kamal Sadanah was a very happy man.

Stumbling blocks

We were living on a boat in Sunderbans and also shot on them. Maneuvering those boats in the Bay of Bengal was not an easy job. Two boats needed to be in certain formation to be able to take a shot. The cinematographer would be in his position with the camera but most of the times the boats would drift away and the shots would have to be redone six to seven times. Sometimes, when the water would start receeding we had to use sticks to push the boat. Physically it was very challenging as walking and running in the soft sand was a big hurdle. If you stood for a long time in the silt, there was the danger of sinking in it.

Role Mode

Leonardo Di Caprio is my biggest role model. He makes me wonder how can anyone be so versatile and perfect. Back home, I admire Randeep Hooda’s versatility. He can slip into any role easily. He does not have a Bollywood background, yet he has managed to garner such wide-spread acclaim.

Future Projects

I have been approached for a few projects and there are things in the pipeline, but I am not in a position to speak about it.


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