With back-to-back big releases, Sham Kaushal is undoubtedly one of the busiest and most efficient stunt directors in Bollywood. A firm believer in team work, Kaushal feels he would be nowhere had it not been for his team of sincere stunt artists.

His upcoming film Kaabil has him teaming up with actor Hrithik Roshan whom he shares a warm relationship with as the duo have worked together on several films. What makes this film unique is that the stunt maestro had to design action for a visually impaired man’s story. Sham Kaushal tells Pandolin all that went into designing the action sequences in this film.

Sham Kaushal

Sham Kaushal

How did you design the action for Kaabil, what forms of action have been used?

While designing the action sequences, it is the story that motivates me followed by the characterization and then the situation. In this film, the action had to be justified as a visually impaired man was performing it. Justified not only from the character’s point of view but also that of the audience. I was clear that it has to look logical and also flow according to the story and the situation. I cannot reveal much about how and what has been designed. But I am sure that it will seem justified and valid once you see the action.

Are there any new techniques or forms that have been used in this film?

Techniques aren’t important. What’s important with a story and a character is that it should touch the heart. The technique should justify the scene, the character and story.

What was director Sanjay Gupta’s vision for this revenge story?

As far as the action was concerned, there were some limitations which we had to keep track of and work accordingly. The main concern was how to substantiate the action being done by a visually impaired man. But we were on the same page and everything was discussed in detail because even a small moment matters a lot.

How have you choreographed action for a visually impaired person?

I surrendered to the vision of the director and his story about the character. As per the situation, I had to divide the character’s plus and minus points in a particular scene and then develop a whole sequence.

You have worked with Hrithik Roshan on many projects. Tell us about your association.

Our association goes way back. There is a mutual respect and admiration for each other. He is a dedicated actor who gives his all to achieve perfection. He also gives his inputs, it is definitely team work. Everybody contributes from their end and helps lift the scene. That makes the whole process beautiful. When you are thinking of a scene, you think from the actor’s point of view but an actor is living that part so the suggestions that they make definitely help the sequence.

Hrithik Roshan in a still from Kaabil

Hrithik has mentioned in his interviews that the action sequences in Kaabil were extremely challenging. Your thoughts?

It was challenging as he had to believe and act like a visually impaired man though he can actually see things. No doubt it involved a lot of hard work from his end and from our end too, to design it well. When you are performing the action, you can see objects around but you need to behave as if you don’t with complete honesty to make the audience believe it.

Are the antagonists played by Rohit and Ronit Roy involved in action scenes? Can you talk about the sequences?

Yes, they are performing action sequences but I can’t talk about any details before the release.

You have been in the industry for a long time. How do you look at the journey? What has been the most challenging film of your career?

Every day is a challenging day. But God has been really kind to me. It feels like I have just started because with each project I have the same thought of putting my best foot forward. As time changes, you have to accept things and change. I have learnt to learn and be flexible and look forward to each day’s work.

I have been lucky to have been associated with such good directors and producers like Sanjay Gupta, Rakesh Roshan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Mani Ratnam, Rajkumar Hirani et al. Dangal released recently and  Kaabil is just a few days away, so I think the times are good, I am learning and am filled with gratitude for getting to work with immensely talented people.

Challenges keep coming. Last year it was Bajirao Mastani, this year has Kaabil and both the films have been quite challenging due to the story and the canvas. But at the same time they have been exciting opportunities. They were not regular action films.

Can you please talk about the team that works with you? How long have they been with you?

I am blessed to have such a good team. They have been working with me since the past 20 years now. Luckily, the people who got associated with me never left. More than them, I need my team. Because it’s a creative job, you have to divide responsibilities. You can’t work alone. My work is to think creatively and then assign jobs amongst my team members so that the work is done systematically and efficiently. I am so thankful to my team. I believe it’s not a one man job but a team job.