I treated Sonakshi Sinha as the hero of the film – AR Murugadoss
With movies like Ghajini and Holiday: A soldier is never off duty, director AR Murugadoss raised the bar for action in Hindi cinema. With his latest venture Akira, he takes it up a notch higher by casting Sonakshi Sinha in an action-packed avatar as the protagonist. If that wasn’t reason enough to grab eyeballs, the filmmaker packed in another punch by getting Anurag Kashyap to play the antagonist.
Ahead of the release of Akira, Murugadoss gives Pandolin an insight into making a woman-centric film, working with Anurag Kashyap and remaking Tamil films for the Bollywood audience.
Your films have always had male protagonists, was it different to have a female protagonist?
There was no major difference in having a female protagonist as I treated Sonakshi (Sinha) as the hero of the film. We needed a hero for the film and even though this is a woman-centric film, it does have a hero. The script has all the aspects and elements of a hero, from the emotions to the action sequences; the only difference being that the hero in Akira is a woman. While shooting the movie there wasn’t any prominent difference in the way I treated the protagonist.
Akira is said to be a remake of the Tamil film Mouna Guru. What were the changes that you had to make in the Bollywood version?
We have added some flashback sequences (in the Hindi version) and at the same time, some of the scenes that were present in the Tamil version have been removed. Also, we have improvised a lot and have changed the film from a male’s point-of-view to a story that is said through a female protagonist. We have re-written some scenes to add that perspective, but mainly the scene sequence is the same as the Tamil version.
How did the decision to cast Anurag Kashyap as the antagonist happen? How was the experience of directing another director?
The reason we went for him was that we wanted somebody new, but at the same time someone who is a member of the film industry. The casting director, Shruti Mahajan, suggested Anurag Kashyap after which I watched all his interviews and observed his modulation and voice. I was very happy with the choice. We then approached him and narrated the script. He liked the script and came on board with the movie.
He is very friendly and extremely co-operative, I’ve seen all his films and it’s not just me, but all the directors from the South are huge fans of Anurag Kashyap. On the first day, I was a little apprehensive to explain the scenes to him because I was thinking about how does one tell a big director like him, who is already so knowledgeable, to perform. But then as the days progressed we become close and it was comfortable to work with him.
Since you have made remakes earlier, is it easier to remake a movie or more complex since you have to live up to the original?
We do make slight changes for the Hindi audience, but I do think that it (making a remake) is more complex. Sometimes remakes can be very risky because people tend to compare it with the original film. Also, at times the magic that the original film had, cannot be created again. When the emotions are good and it has good drama, only then can we think of remaking the film. Moreover, we cannot say that all the films will work, but the emotions and human relationships will be the same, irrespective of the industry.
Action is an integral part of your films. Would it be right to say that you enjoy doing action films? Also, how closely involved are you in the making of the action sequences and stunts?
Anal Arasu has done the action choreography for Akira and he is extremely good. When it comes to action, I prefer to see natural fights, specifically hand-to-hand combat. I don’t like fights with guns or knives or with too much chasing; I think hand-to-hand combat looks natural and more lifelike.
The film is also said to have a strong social message. How have you weaved in the message, making the story entertaining at the same time?
People won’t accept only a message, they need an entertainment factor as well. Therefore, we have to make sure that the message shouldn’t be present in all the scenes but should be weaved into the story. Akira does have a message, but we have not shown that in a direct manner, we have blended it in an indirect manner.
What can the audience expect from Akira?
The first thing is that the content of the film is very good and the actors have given great performances. The other thing being that the movie has a fast-paced screenplay along with a message. So I hope that people will enjoy the movie.