Anubhav Sinha made his mark in Bollywood ten years ago as a director with ‘Tum Bin’. After directing action films like ‘Dus’ and ‘Cash’, the 46-year-old filmmaker started to work on his most ambitious film ‘Ra.One’ with Shah Rukh Khan.
Sinha has also written the story of this Sci-Fi Indian film which will show Khan playing a superhero and Kareena Kapoor, the leading lady, a mother on screen for the first time. Set in London and Goa, ‘Ra.One’ is this year’s most anticipated film and Khan is leaving no stone unturned for promotions. Anubhav Sinha took out some time to speak to Bollywood Reporter Sunny Malik for Ikonz speaking about the film.
What is the unique selling point of ‘Ra.One’?
The story is the unique selling point of my film. The story happens to be about a superhero, so it becomes more exciting and engaging. At the end of the day, the USP of any film should be the story.
Tell me a little bit about the story of ‘Ra.One’.
The film is about a father and his son and how the son finds his father, how he conceptually finds his father and his relationship with him. I can’t tell you more about the story right now.
You also wrote the story of ‘Ra.One’. How did that come about and where did you draw your inspiration from, or was it written from personal experiences?
I don’t instinctively remember the image. I don’t know if it was a movie commercial or print commercial, I don’t know what exactly it was, but it was an image of a child controlling a human being with a remote. I found that really interesting and I ended up writing a story around it and that became ‘Ra.One’.
How did Shah Rukh Khan come on board?
When I wrote the story, I realised that I need someone who would perhaps believe in a film like this, who would believe in the vision of a superhero film in India. I spoke to him about the film and we worked on it. A few years later we started making the movie.
The film was originally to be shot in Miami but was relocated to London. What happened and did you have to make many changes to the story?
Yes, we did a technical recce (location scouting) in Miami and suddenly the budget started to seem out of control. At that point, Shah Rukh decided to recalculate the budget and that would have meant postponing the shooting there which would have resulted in serious weather issues for the filming. The whole plan of shooting outdoors had to be changed and we needed to change the country and we decided on London.
While you were shooting in London, you laughed off reports of the film being sold for distribution at a certain price. Do you think these rumours helped the film in terms of promotion or created too many expectations?
There is no way we could have controlled the expectations of the film because Shah Rukh was going to release a film of his after a gap of eighteen months, then he is also playing a superhero and then the whole of myths that get associated with such films. We were also aware that the film will have massive expectations. I agree with you that these things should make you nervous because people go into the theatre with a lot of expectations. In terms of what you have to deliver, you must do your best to go beyond it. We have tried to do that.
You are not attending any promotional events at the moment. Are you still busy with post production of your film?
I am busy 24/7. There are three to four days more and then I am going to be jobless (laughs).
There were two units shooting in London for a few days. Karan Johar was overseeing the filming at Hardwick House in Ham and you were shooting action scenes in Temple (Central London). Why was that necessary?
The filming at Battersea Power Station was extended by a few days because of the rain and we ran into the schedule of the next planned location. The need for two units came up and fortunately Karan Johar was in town and I requested him to take charge of the second unit.
Which according to you is the most interesting character in ‘Ra.One’?
At the risk of sounding pompous, I am a righteous guy (laughs), so I like heroes more than villains.
Villains are very interesting but G.One is very intriguing to me.
How was your experience working with Shah Rukh Khan?
It was fantastic. I have worked with a very wide range of actors. I have worked with big stars, newcomers and now Shah Rukh Khan. It was one of the best experiences I had.
How was it working with Kareena Kapoor and why did you decide that she should be playing the leading female character?
Kareena is a brilliant actress. There is a very wide range of emotions that her character goes through. I am a big fan of Kareena Kapoor as an audience and I really like her and wanted her to be in my movie.
Recently filmed Bollywood productions attracted huge crowds in London. Did that happen to you when you were filming Ra.One last year here in the capital?
We feared that something like that would happen but fortunately most of the times we were shooting stunts, chasing sequences and indoors. We were mostly in secured zones and for safety reasons those roads were blocked off and nobody could get there.
But obviously, there used to be some fans around but really small in numbers. We had a very large security system making sure that G.One’s look does not get clicked.
Why did you decide to get Akon on your OST?
When we decided to approach Akon, it was the tune that made us chose him. When Vishal and Shekhar, my music composers, played me the tune we were thinking about who should sing it.
One of them said that this is so much of an Akon song and I told them that we should get him to sing it then. I asked Shah Rukh Khan and he said that he will try and he delivered. It was not intended that we are bringing Akon on board to add value. That just happened.
Which is your favourite song from the OST?
That is the toughest question you have asked so far. I think, Stand By Me (Dildaara) is my most favourite song.
What about your bet that the song ‘Criminal’ from your Soundtrack is going to be bigger than ‘Chammak Challo’?
Shah Rukh reminded me last night and asked me whether I have lost the bet yet or not. I told him no, let the film release. I love both songs but regarding the bet, I have to pay him less and he pays me much more (laughs).
You are holding a Premiere in London. How are you feeling about it?
I love London. I don’t know why, I am just trying to figure out the reasons why I love it, but I just do.
Being there for a Premiere of a film that I have made over six years is ideal. I will be there with my friends, my Indian team, my UK friends and crew members and I will have a lot of fun.
Ra.One, produced by Red Chillies Entertainment and distributed by Eros International Ltd will premiere in the UK at The O2 Cineworld in London on the 25th October 2011 followed by a nation-wide release on the following day.