Did not want to make an over-the-top action film: Raj Nidimoru
Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK made the first zombie comedy in India. With its quirky sense of humor, Go, Goa Gone was a complete popcorn entertainer loved by the audiences. Their previous films 99 and Shor In The City too stood out, giving them a strong foothold in the industry.
Pandolin catches up with Raj, one half of the director duo, on their upcoming release A Gentleman where he talks about their affinity to comedy, tryst with the Censor board and views on movie promotions.
Krishna DK, Sita Menon and you have worked on a number of projects together, how does this team effort work?
Krishna and I have not formally learnt the art of direction or assisted any directors before starting our journey as filmmakers. All three of us have ideas, which we share with each other, some get discarded, some go into testing and later the ones that work for us go into the scripting phase. Since we share the same frequencies and sensibilities, it has been a smooth journey. Although there are times when it takes time to convince the other person. But we write our idea out elaborately and then share it and explain.
This happened with Shor In The City, which was a nebulous idea and involved dark humor and satire. Although a film is a director’s vision, it is a collaborative effort of actors, the writer, DoP, technicians, editors etc. who carry forward the idea and vision. DK and I share the vision when directing a film.
You have mentioned in a previous interview that A Gentleman is more like a Bourne film and not a Bond film. How would you define the film’s action?
While growing up, we saw a lot of action films and later, we were introduced to international films. We wanted to make an action film that is true to its genre with good sensibilities, believable stunts and infuse it with humor. We did not want to make an over-the-top action film which seems unreal. If the stunt includes a car flying in the city of Mumbai then it will land up in an apartment as the city faces a major space crunch. The comparison with Bourne films is because it is an action spy thriller where the central character Jason Bourne is very believable, interesting and sensible unlike Bond films that are extremely over-the-top and extravagant. However, lately the character of Bond too has toned down a bit.
Something that is new and not been done before really excites me rather than rehashing already existing material
Are you drawn towards humor as a genre when making films?
Yes, comedy does come naturally to us. Go, Goa, Gone was a zombie action film that had whacked-out humor, something never seen before in Bollywood. Shor In The City and 99 too had in-built satirical humor. We do take up serious films and build in humor; A Gentleman is an action comedy.
How did the story of A Gentleman come about?
We usually have a few ideas; Sita, D.K and I write a lot, so we have around 45 to 50 ideas with us. We were looking at doing a film and thought that we should do an action film with a wacky sense of humor. It was just an idea and later we developed it into a script, as we haven’t seen an action comedy in a long time.
The comparison with Bourne films is because it is an action spy thriller where the central character Jason Bourne is very believable
Your previous films like Go Goa Gone and Shor In The City have been male centric. What role does Jacqueline play in A Gentleman?
We wanted our female character to represent the modern woman and not just treat her as a glamorous symbol, which is usually the case in action films. Even in our previous films, we have had strong female characters like Radhika Apte in Shor In The City. Although they share less screen time, the women play important roles in the film. We want to explore more female-centric films where they have more screen space and time; there are many interesting stories that we would like to work on in the future.
Sidharth and Jacqueline are being cast for the first time together. What made you cast them? What kind of workshops did they go through?
I really like Sid from the new generation of actors. He has the perfect physique and body language required for the role. Jacqueline is a very strong and fit actress; I was surprised that she has never done an action film or held a gun in a film before. She is extremely natural with her acting.
Sid had to go through a lot of workshops. We got Cyril Raffaelli from France, a renowned action director who in his own way taught Sid hand-to-hand combat for a few weeks before the shooting of the film. The action looks practical and very real. And Sid has done all the stunts on his own. Jacqueline didn’t have a very intensive workshop; she was a natural and her action scenes have turned out well.
We do take serious films and build in humor; A Gentleman is an action comedy
Did you face any troubles at the film’s certification stage?
Surprisingly, not. We had a pleasant experience with the board and are happy with their reaction. Everybody was skeptical as to how they would react to the film but they have given sensible trims and cuts keeping the audience in mind.
In today’s times, we see films being promoted extensively before a release. How important are promotions for a film’s success?
We are currently at an influx; there is no particular formula that will guarantee a film’s success any more unlike before. I am not sure if promotions are important for a film’s success. We have left that aspect to Fox Studios and are focusing on making the film better. They are doing a great job in promoting the film and we are doing our best by giving them interesting material to promote like teasers and mini-trailers.
We wanted our female character to represent the modern woman and not just treat her as a glamorous symbol
As a director and writer what excites you most about a project and what kind of cinema will we be seeing from you in future?
Something that is new and not been done before really excites me rather than rehashing already existing material. Whether it is the drama or sci-fi genre, we believe in challenging ourselves. We are foraying into the digital medium with a web series for Amazon Prime. We have written a 500-page script for it, which we have never done before! It is interesting and we are excited about it.