Go Goa Gone Director Duo: To create authentic zombies was really challenging
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]hey started their career in the US as Indie filmmakers and later shifted to bollywood with their first Hindi film “99”. However, they came into limelight with their critically acclaimed film “Shor in the City” for its sensitive and edgy portrayal of Mumbai. Now, this director duo has come up with India’s first Zom-Com film “Go Goa Gone”, a concept entirely novel to the masses. In an exclusive interview with Pandolin, these two Engineer-turned-filmmakers, Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D.K. give insights of their Filmmaking career and Bollywood journey.
How did the idea of making a Zombie film come to your mind?
We were planning to make a comedy on the today’s slacker generation, which is madly lost into technology, phones, ipads and TV. At the same time we wanted to do a zombie film from a long time. We have seen couple of zombie walks and parties in the US and it was extremely fascinating to experience this whole sub culture of zombies. We were not able to find an edge and constantly thinking when somewhere in between both the slacker idea and the zombie idea kind of merged together in our minds. We got really excited about this and thought it would be very entertaining for audience to see this.
Go Goa Gone is being publicized as India’s first Zom-com film. Do you think that a relatively new concept like this will click among average Indian audiences?
We really didn’t think about whether zombies will work in India or not. For us, it was just a fresh comedy with ultra new background. Audiences always like entertaining cinema coming out with a new subject. So, it didn’t matter if it’s zombie or something else. Once we had a script in place, we knew that it is going to be a hilarious film altogether.
How did you approach Illuminati Films with this concept and managed to rope in Saif Ali Khan to play the lead?
Surprisingly, Saif called us once and told us that he liked our previous film 99 a lot. He asked us if we had something concrete in terms of script for him, then he would be interested to discuss. So, we went in with a couple of ideas to him, among which there was a romantic comedy and a zombie film concept. We didn’t have many expectations from the zombie film because it’s a completely foreign subject. However, as soon as Saif heard the idea, he kind of fell for it and really jumped up excitedly to start this project. Both Saif and Dinesh, (the co producer) mutually agreed that it’s definitely a great idea to take further. Ultimately, Saif decided that he would not only act in the film but produce it as well.
Gradually, as we worked towards the film, we realized that we have found great producers in Dinesh Vijan and Saif Ali Khan. As our journey progressed from the initial shooting days to the final film release, we figured out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. There was a good lot of creative contribution and production support from Illuminati Films. As an actor, Saif Ali Khan is extremely strong and possesses a unique ability to switch between macho coolness to quirky funny side of him. Also, the character of Boris is pretty much like this in the film. He comes across in an exaggeratedly cool outlandish getup and then once you start talking to him, you realize his hilarious eccentricity, when he pretty much comes out saying that “dilli se hun”.
It was great working with rest of the team and everybody has a strong character in the film. We have earlier worked with Kunal Khemu in 99 and we must say he is a very talented guy. Vir Das, of course has a great sense of humor and timing and the third guy Anand Tiwari is a very strong theatre personality. We loved discovering him in this film. Their bromance and their chemistry with Saif is pretty much the highlight of this film.
How is the overall look of the film and what was your brief to the cinematographers Dan Macarthur and Lukasz Pruchnik for this?
As filmmakers, we always tend to experiment with our stories, the way we are making and shooting it or executing a film in totality. Like with “Shor in the City”, we really wanted a gritty look but with a dark sense of humor to it. And now with zombies, we had a diametrically opposite idea of tone and graphic for it. Since there is nothing real about zombies and it’s a surreal story, we wanted light bat cinematography.
We were on an island and wanted to capture the beauty of it but still created an eerie feeling keeping in mind that it’s a Zombie comedy. Technically speaking, we shot it in a way that eventually translated to very edgy and stylish visuals on screen. We made a conscious effort to stay away from the usual look and standards that go with this kind of films. We wanted to give a little more international look to our film.
We use a varied range of cameras to shoot this film. Our main cameras include Red Epic, Alexa, bunch of 5Ds and Go Pros. The style of filmmaking pretty much demanded this range of digital cameras for shooting. There is quite a bit of VFX in the film but more than VFX we think prosthetics played a major role while filming. Prosthetic technicians did a great job and most of the look comes from prosthetics rather than VFX. It was more about making it as real as possible in most places, except for some deliberately stylish areas where only VFX could do the trick.
Where did the shooting happen and how long did it take to complete it?
The shooting mainly took place in Goa while some portions of the film were partly shot in Mumbai and Mauritius. We finished it off in less than 60 days.
What is the role of the music in the film?
We always try to make music that goes with the entire idea and narrative of the film. Go Goa Gone is a wacky concept, one of its kinds, so its music and soundtrack had to be wacky as well. We had very clear specific instances in our film where the music could very well underline the situation. Hence, we have got these four tracks that compliments the film in a really nice manner. It ranges from trippy numbers to wacky ones and from funny to extremely soulful track.
What were the major challenges you faced while shooting?
It was very tough and challenging to shoot in the real locations, in the middle of forest where people haven’t shot before, or in the middle of the sea, when you are not equipped to do it. Here, it’s not like the Hollywood thing where you create everything within your studio premises. We were pretty much out there shooting in the jungles and waters and it’s not always easy to deal with climate and nature.
Another critical challenge was to deal with zombies. There are really lots and lots of zombies in the film. Getting their look, walk, and behavior right was an exhausting training. Its kind of funny for people to be actually on the sets to train these zombies but at the end of the day, you have to get them absolutely authentic. That was a major problem, because not many people knew about zombies and it did take a long time to train them to be good zombies.
Did you draw any inspiration from some foreign Zombie film for making Go Goa Gone?
Inspiration is a very loosely used word these days. We have always thought of original work and tried to make all our films so far in our own original style. But having said that zombie films are a completely alien concept. Its something, we are deriving from the US and the western world. So the idea was to know what’s being out there and then to add up to the list of good zombie films rather than copying something from there.
Since you both started out as Indie filmmakers in US, how did the transition to bollywood changed your lives?
Before being Indie filmmakers, we were actually software engineers. So from software to making films was a big dramatic transition, especially in the middle of our lives after spending so many years on studies and work. But we think at the core, we are still the same people. We still feel like outsiders in Bollywood and have our independent filmmaker’s sensibilities intact. Most of our friends are from outside the film circle, so it brings a kind of balance in our lives.
Why did you both choose to direct together?
We were not filmmakers or storytellers. We didn’t have any film background or clue about movie business. So, it all started off as a collaborative effort saying that lets put our heads together and crack this movie thing. Given our engineering background, it was kind of practical for us to breakdown every thing into pieces and strategically work towards it. It was a joint team effort for us and our journey has also been similar.
We have a core team between two of us and Sita Menon. We don’t sit and clearly define each other’s duties instead we write, brainstorm, plan and execute everything together. Sita has been part of all our films so far and she has been credited as a creative director for this film. She forms the spine of our film and continuously involved in all aspects right from the ideas to scripting and then to casting, look, costumes, marketing ideas, taglines, sound mixing and various other technical and creative grounds. She usually works in the background but contributes equally to the entire film cycle.
Your previous work “Shor in the City” was quite a sensitive film and now with Go Goa Gone you have turned towards comedy. So, what kind of genre excites you most and how do you both decide to pick a story?
The next genre is what excites us most. For example, if we are making a horror film currently then something away from this genre as our next film will excite us. And since we are originally audience turned filmmakers, we really like all kinds of films like audience do. So, we would always like to do something different from what we have done already in terms of genre.
However, lately, we have realized that there seems to be a commonality in all our previous films in terms of quirky humor. Whether in small or dark doses, wacky or slice of life comedy, but that seems to be the common thread. But we definitely want to be experimental in terms of genre we decide to make upon. Though we are mainstream filmmakers in our heads yet we would like to experiment with the treatment of the given subject instead of making a straightforward film.
Would you like to describe yourself as a Spontaneous or a Methodical director?
We do our homework before going on shoot because that’s what engineering taught us. We preplan everything and make our flowcharts for smooth execution. This proper planning and homework give us time, mental space and extreme confidence to be spontaneous on the sets.
What would you like to say to the aspiring filmmakers?
We think the biggest lesson that we have learned till date is to be practical in this movie world. One should not throw everything away that they have to pursue their passion of film making. You need to implement practicality in your lives and make sure that you have a job that gives money so that you can plan your things appropriately. You must be aware of your talent and specially limitations.
Tell us something about your other film projects in pipeline?
We are planning to make a romantic comedy next. So, from working with horrible looking creatures like zombies, we will now shift to some pretty looking picture.