In an interview with Cinestaan.com, directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, jointly known as Raj-DK, speak about their interest in films with double roles and the new CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi.
A Gentleman directors Raj-DK: We don't have a special interest in double role films
Mumbai - 22 Aug 2017 9:00 IST
The names Raj and DK sound like characters from a comic book story or a cool, urban flick. Going by the works of directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK, jointly known as Raj-DK, it seems they are certainly here to make youthful, western and unconventional films. To name a few, they have films like Shor In The City (2011), Go Goa Gone (2013) and Happy Ending (2014) up their sleeve. Their upcoming film A Gentleman, which stars Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandez, also falls in the same zone. Going by the promos, it looks like their biggest and most stylized flick till date.
In a chat with Cinestaan.com, Raj-DK get candid about A Gentlemen, the double role aspect and how their last film Happy Ending had a different concept of double role.
What is A Gentleman about?
Raj: We wanted to do original action comedy film, which we don’t do any more. Like a Die Hard series or Lethal Weapon.
DK: Fun action films. Not the dramatic ones.
Raj: Even the newer ones like Baby Driver and all these movies. We used to have so much fun watching them. We had a few here. But lately it hasn’t been there. So, we had a story that we wanted to do. But when Foxstar came and asked if we had something in the action space, we proposed why not this script that we have that is not just action but action comedy.
Sidharth Malhotra s playing a double role in the film. But the title mentions only one character.
Raj: Because there is only one gentleman.
DK: Only one of them is a gentleman.
Raj: That’s why earlier we thought we should call it Gentlemen. Plural. But we decided let’s just go with A Gentleman because there is only one of them.
How did the casting happen?
Raj: Obviously it’s an action film. We wanted to make a young action film. Sidharth is perfect for action. He has got the physique, agility and stance. He is willing to train. I am just surprised that he hasn’t made an action film so far. This is a great platform for him. So, Sidharth was a natural cast for the film.
DK: He also has that whole gentleman thing going also.
Raj: A sweet boy-next-door look also, which is very hard. For Jackie (Jacqueline Fernandez) also exactly the same elements worked out. I think she is a great fit for action films. She is the right cast for a cool action film. She is cool and also fits the NRI label funnily in a cool way because she plays a girl living and working in Miami. So it was an easy cast.
How did the idea of the film originate?
Raj: We had an idea that one day we should make an action comedy like the good old days but fit to the current sensibilities. And still not make a trivial film that makes people feel stupid. It should respect their intelligence. For example, even if the action scene looks spectacular, it is following ground rules and laws of physics. There is a reason why he can’t kick five people at the same time. But when it does hit somebody, he hits him hard. So, you get the cool-ness and sleekness but not over-the-top. And even if you do something over-the-top, it should have rules.
DK: It is a spectacle but still rooted in logic. Not without logic.
Your last film Happy Ending had Saif Ali Khan in a double role but it wasn’t a conventional double role film that we see in Hindi cinema. Now this film has Sidharth playing a double role but again it’s not a typical double role film. Have you developed a special interest towards hatke double role films?
Raj: (laughs) I did not know we have a special interest in double roles.
DK: There are different reasons though. In Happy Ending, the other guy was not even a real person.
Raj: We don’t even know if he was real.
DK: Exactly. At the end of the script, nobody else sees the other Saif. Nobody reacts to him.
Raj: He is also in the party but nobody sees him.
DK: Even in the party he is drinking and walking around but nobody talks to him. So, for all you know, he can be a figment of the first Saif’s imagination. That was the idea. In this case (A Gentleman), both people are real. They are fighting, kicking, falling and all that.
Raj: I think it goes back to the movies we saw during school and college. When you used to see two Shah Rukh Khans, two Amitabh Bachchans, you are like, ‘Aah, I want to see this film.’ So, it came from that fascination. And I don’t think we have special interest in double roles (laughs). It’s not an easy thing to do. It takes away a lot of effort to get two characters in a frame.
This is your most commercial and expensive film till date. Is there any extra pressure since the stakes are high?
DK: To begin with, this is a film with a very controlled budget. Going by action film standards, it’s not as expensive.
Going by the promos, it does look expensive.
DK: That was the whole idea. We felt, let us do a very controlled budget film. But let’s make it look big.
Raj: Let’s stretch the dollar and see how much we can do within this budget. From the beginning, the idea was to make this film work on the table, which is always a very smart thought. We and the producer sat together and said that this is the money given so let’s try and put it within this. But how do we get a spectacle in this? So, that’s what we sat down and designed it together to make it work within this budget. It’s surprisingly small for an action film.
Filmmakers faced a lot of issues from the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) under the leadership of the ex-chief Pahlaj Nihalani. How do you see the appointment of Prasoon Joshi as the new chief?
DK: Honestly, I don’t know anything about the new person. So, I don’t know what the results are going to be.
Raj: See, everywhere there is hope and excitement in the industry that the change has come and the new committee will be better than the older committee. Surprisingly, ours was the last film (passed) by the older committee. I think that was the last day when it was announced. We still had the screening fixed and we went and got it. And surprisingly, the six people who saw it were quite amicable. It was a very practical and reasonable conversation. Whatever trims and cuts there were...
DK: There were no cuts per se. Just few words muted.
Raj: And few changes; like just three. That’s nothing for our film. If I had gone with Go Goa Gone today, I don’t know; maybe they would have said, cut it, we are not releasing it. But this had just three small changes they asked for. And they were all that we had expected it. When you want a U/A (certificate), you go with certain sensibilities. When you want U, you go with certain sensibilities. But we still put three A elements. Naturally it was removed.
The medium of web series has expanded in recent times. Any plans of doing one?
DK: We are actually doing a web series for Amazon. It’s been for a while. It’s a show called The Family Man.
Raj: We are just casting now and getting into pre-production soon. That’s a show we are very excited about as it’s the first time we are doing a long format and everybody is watching these long formats. We are all hooked onto this. So we really want to do that one. We are producing it ourselves.