Suspense, Romance and a Bond Girl – Rajeev & Caterina on Fever
Rajeev Khandelwal, who once ruled the television industry, established his presence on the silver screen with his film Aamir and has since been part of some unique films. To add to the list is his upcoming film Fever, where he plays a contract killer with amnesia.
Accompanying him is Bond girl Caterina Murino of Casino Royale fame, who has been part of several European films. Playing a mysterious role in Fever, the actress is thrilled to be part of a Bollywood film.
Talking about their respective roles and the experience of working in this thriller, the two actors keep the suspense of the movie alive in the conversation as well.
What were the elements or factors in the story that drew you?
The sole reason for me was that it is an extremely different script. In fact, I think that this is probably the first time that someone is telling a story in this manner. A suspense-thriller is a great genre in itself, but this suspense-thriller is one-of-a-kind, probably the first that you will be seeing on the screen.
What kind of preparation did you have to undergo to play a contract killer with amnesia?
We had a 15-day workshop with the director where we dedicated our time to understanding the entire script. We would have discussions at length and work on the character. We would also discuss the look and how the character should carry himself. In terms of performance, we discussed the extent to which I could go and where the line should be drawn. We let the character develop and evolve and I adapted to the character accordingly.
Tell us about the rapport shared between director Rajeev Jhaveri and you. What were his expectations from you?
It was fantastic. We shared a great chemistry. At the end of it, we both are hell-bent on selling this film because we are so proud of all the work and effort that we’ve put in. We are going and generating awareness about the film because we want a lot of people to watch it.
And how was the experience of sharing screen space with Bond girl Caterina Murino?
I got a lot of exposure working with her. At the beginning, there was this feeling about how would working with an international celebrity be like. There was this curiosity about their work ethics and how they define professionalism. While working with Caterina I understood that art is universal, the language may be different, but the work and acting is the same. If I am romancing Caterina, I would do that in the same way that I romance any other actress. The chemistry of course develops (with time), but that is regardless of the nationality of the actor, it doesn’t change the relationship for the characters. The perception that she is from another country and things might be different, that is simply in the mind. She has helped me realize that and in turn helped me develop as an actor. Now, I know that if I have to work on an international project I wouldn’t have doubts or hesitations. The crux of the acting remains the same everywhere.
You don’t do as many films as your contemporaries, are you selective or careful about the projects you do?
I am not careful at all, in fact, I am extremely instinctive about my career. I just go by my gut feeling, no matter what it is – good, bad or ugly. At the end of it, I don’t have anyone to blame, I base my choice on my own feelings and instincts.
What encouraged you to be part of a Hindi film?
For us Bollywood is a huge industry because the number of movies that release every year is amazing. I have a very strange concept for this job as I don’t think in terms of career; I think about how I can experience new things in life. I believe that the more experience you have as a human being, the more you can give to the character you play on screen. Also, it was my dream to come and work in Bollywood, so when Rajeev Jhaveri (Director) proposed this movie, I was so excited at the thought of coming to India and experiencing Bollywood cinema. It was like a dream come true for me. It was the experience of a new country and a different culture that encouraged me.
Can you tell us a bit about your character, how does she fit into the story line?
I cannot say much without revealing the suspense, but I could be playing his (Rajeev Khandelwal) girlfriend or maybe not (laughs). It’s a puzzle and people who love puzzles are really going to enjoy this movie. The basic story is quite complex, it is quite unusual and original. And at the center of the big plot, it is a romantic story.
Were there any apprehensions as well about being part of a Bollywood film?
There were no apprehensions as I love to throw myself into new things in life and to think that I have the chance to work in so many different countries, which are completely different from each other, is great. There are of course scary parts because you never know, but it’s a new life, new directors and actors and a new character that you breathe life into. It is not about any one country or industry but is about experiencing something new in life and to have richer experiences that make you a better person and actor.
What were the differences that you witnessed in Bollywood as compared to Hollywood?
I have to say that the crew in Bollywood is much quicker in terms of working than any other crew that I’ve worked with. That is the only prominent difference that I have come across. When you work in different projects with varied budgets and different industries, things might differ, but in terms of acting, it’s all the same. The art of cinema and acting is the same in India as well as Europe or any other country.