Simmba Tales| In Converstation with Director Rohit Shetty and Actors Ranveer Singh & Sara Ali Khan
Simmba starts in the Rohit Shetty cinematic universe in the land of his much loved character Singham. We ask him, and his new actors Ranveer Singh and Sara Ali Khan one by one about this new title in the RSCU (Rohit Shetty Cinematic Universe)
Known as the king of commercial “masala genre” films in Bollywood, Rohit Shetty has given smashing hits like Golmaal and Singham. He has not only established franchises of these films but created an entire genre that defines his style of filmmaking. With Simmba he is adding another name to his filmography. In the main lead, the movie stars the exceptionally talented Ranveer Singh and new-comer scion of Amrita Singh and Saif Ali Khan, Sara Ali Khan. Along with them, playing the role of the antagonist is Sonu Sood.
Tracing the transforming story of a dishonest cop, the movie as Rohit Shetty defines, is a part of the Singham universe. Moreover, the movie touches on the serious subject of women’s issue and safety.
Giving us more insights about the movie is the director and the actors themselves. As the movie is slated to release this week, we caught up the cast to know more about the making of the movie, their role and much more.
What was the inspiration behind Simmba and is there a story behind the name?
Almost two years ago there was this film called ‘Temper’ that I had seen and the central character was very interesting. I thought it would be interesting if we took this character and wrote a story of our own. It was also interesting because we have already done a movie like Singham where we have an honest cop. But Simmba is a different shade of cop, he is negative, he is dishonest, but at the same time, loveable.
This movie belongs to the Singham universe. The thought behind the name was that if Singham who represents a lion, had a child, then his name would be Simmba.
The trailer straight away shows Ajay Devgn, making Simmba from the same universe, but was it so evident and important to show that in the trailer? Any particular reason behind it, and how was your experience working with Ranveer Singh?
Ajay Devgn is the narrator of the film if we wouldn’t have shown him in the trailer people might have got confused, it will take time for them to register that this is Singham’s world.
As for Ranveer, he has enhanced the role and with his performance; he has taken this character and the whole film to a different level. As an actor he has captured the essence of the character, the light-hearted and fun part is fine, but even when the film takes a serious turn he has performed exceptionally.
Is the action in Simmba different from your previous films?
It is very raw, there are no car stunts happening, there is minimal cable work. When you see the film, it looks like real action.
You have taken up a serious social issue in the film, how did you manage to balance the entertainment element with the seriousness of the subject ?
The first 40-45 minutes of the film is the typical commercial masala film. Then the film takes a serious turn because we are dealing with a serious issue. Once we take that turn then the film doesn’t stray away from the issue then it becomes serious. After that there are no songs or comedy happening. I think it is a reasonability that we don’t take lightly. This is a serious matter and needs to be shown with seriousness.
This is the first film where you are playing a ‘masala hero’, it was a happening in waiting some would say?
First time playing a proper masala hero was great. When the film was announced there were already very high expectations but we wanted to go above and beyond. We had lofty ambitions of our collaboration because we both know our combination is great and that we should create something together that hopefully will set a new benchmark. We want people to recognise that masala films were of a particular kind up to a certain point and then came Simmba along, which became a milestone in the genre itself. It has all the entertainment value, but there is a very strong narrative that binds it all together. With this film, Rohit sir’s craft has also reached another level. There is no car flying, this is like a revolution in Rohit Shetty films.
Rohit Shetty is known for action, how was your experience working with him?
Rohit sir does so much homework on his action. He took four full days to design the entire action, shot it with fighters, edited and played it for me. He showed me a ready piece of the action that is going to take place in the movie. It is wonderful working in that mode because everyone is clear. From the actor to the lighting department, we all know what has to be done. Everyone is clear on what eventually needs to be achieved. That is one unique aspect of Rohit Shetty, I don’t think that has ever happened before, not with me atleast.
Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming projects?
My upcoming slate is exciting. After this movie releases in December, I will go for training in January for ‘83’ which is the biopic of Kapil Dev. It is an extraordinary story of one of the most glorious chapters in our nation’s sporting history. I will be releasing ‘Gully Boy’ in February and the movie has also been selected for the Berlin International Film Festival which is a huge deal.
Then there is Takht as well. I was one of the first actors Karan Johar approached. A lot of people were apprehensive that Karan is making a period film, but at the core of it, Takht is a family drama. It is all about the internal dynamics of family, what period the film is set in and what clothes they are wearing is the decoration.
Sara Ali Khan
Your first film Kedarnath and Simmba are extremely different movies, so how was your experience working in these two diverse projects in the very beginning of your film career?
When you are playing a character, you are not yourself. A character has various emotions, which are not your own emotions they belong to the character. So, it doesn’t make a difference if you are yelling or crying or laughing, none of those emotions are your own. Regardless of which type of movie it is, that doesn’t make a difference.
Rohit Shetty said that you were keen on being a part of Simmba. What about the venture drew you to it?
I am a huge fan of Rohit Sir’s movies. I aspire for versatility there is no genre that I won’t explore. I don’t want people to say that Sara won’t do this or that. I will of course try everything, if it doesn’t work that is a different story, but I want to give it a shot. Rohit sir is the king of commercial cinema and knowing that he is doing a film with Ranveer Singh, I think the question should be why did you not want to do the film.
The movie deals with the issue of women’s safety, how important do you think it is to portray social issues in movies, does the masala genre make it a passing topic in the film for the entertainment sake?
That is one of the reasons I was drawn to the movie. Thought it is a Rohit Shetty film and has all its element, but at the same time we are trying to show that there is a larger social message at hand.
Somewhere down the line one does need to view these topics with a certain element seriousness and strength, not strength in terms of physical strength, but in terms of thoughts and something needs to be done, we delt with it with care and respect in the film.