Why did you zero in on Sonam Kapoor for ‘Blind’?
When a film is scripted, you get a fair idea of who you want for each of the characters; even if you don’t see a face, you get an idea…
Did Sonam’s past performances factor in your decision to cast her?
The worst thing you can do is to cast an actor based on their previous performance. Nobody’s past work matters. Every film has different demands from its cast and crew. That I had seen her in ‘Veere Di Wedding’, ‘Khoobsurat’, ‘Neerja’ and ‘Delhi-6’ is a different story, and of course, she was good in all four.
Did you make Sonam watch the South Korean film to imbibe the protagonist’s body language or was she asked to approach in her own way?
That’s between her and the director Shome Makhija. She has a certain approach of her own.
Playing a visually-impaired girl can’t be easy. What was the brief that Sonam received?
It’s a challenging role but Sonam is doing it well; Shome has been working with her diligently. She has worked hard with a coach hired by us, to understand the nuances of playing blind.
Is the coach present on the sets as well?
No, that was part of Sonam’s prep and since she has a house in London and she stays here often, it fell into place perfectly.
What’s Vikrant Massey’s role in the film?
There is no Vikrant Massey in ‘Blind’ contrary to what reports claim.
Will you retain the title or opt for a new one?
The title remains ‘Blind’.
There’s a renewed Covid scare in the UK; were you apprehensive about not being able to pull off the shoot?
Not really. But yes, the rules here are extremely stringent. We are in an eco-bubble; wearing masks and maintaining social distance is a must. It’s tough but we’ll get used to it.
Are you shooting indoors for the most part?
We are only travelling from the hotel, where we are staying, to the place where we are shooting. In a way, this has a flip side; you don’t have too many people on the sets like earlier; only those who are essential.
Yes, and all three are supreme actors (smiles).
Are you planning to can it in one schedule?
Yes, it’s a start-to-finish.
You have an inclination to remake foreign films in Hindi (‘Badla’ was the official remake of Spanish film The Invisible Guest). Why not revisit yesteryear Hindi films?
Yesteryear films were good but made in sync with the times. How do I recreate the intrigue and longing that the lead pair had for each other back then, in the era of mobile phones? How do I recreate the same society and issues that existed 30 years ago? There was a thehrav in those films, but today everything is instant. If you put a mobile phone in those films, they will become something else. I would like to remake something that stands relevant in today’s times and to which I can contribute. Frankly speaking, I would love to remake ‘Mere Apne’ (Meena Kumari, Vinod Khanna) but can I create that society and that angst? Even when I made ‘Badla’, I had to prove my detractors wrong. They kept thinking why was I remaking ‘The Invisible Guest’ which everyone has seen?’
But filmmakers continue to indulge in remaking yesteryear films despite falling flat on their faces…
I can’t speak for the others because filmmaking is an individual perspective, but I don’t think that remaking a Hindi film would be my cup of tea. On the other hand, if you are remaking a foreign film, it still has to be good to be appreciated. A film will work if, and only if, it is good. When Hrishikesh Mukherjee adapted Bengali films, weren’t they all superb?
So you are saying that you will never remake a Hindi film?
After your first few films as a director, you seem to have gravitated largely towards thrillers. How did the shift happen?
I don’t think it’s right to say that I have gravitated towards thrillers. ‘Kahaani 2’ was a social, not a thriller. I just want to thrill people (laughs)! Why else would they see my film? However, if that categorises me as a filmmaker of thrillers, so be it.
You have only directed a few films, despite backing numerous as a producer. How different are you as a producer than when you do both?
I am present on the sets of ‘Blind’ but I am only arranging for tea and coffee for Shome. I don’t approve of the scenes and I don’t ask for retakes. That’s entirely his domain. I have more than sufficient faith in him; he has assisted me in ‘Kahaani’, ‘Badla’ and many other films. If you have placed your faith in someone, your action should match your words.
What’s your take on films releasing on OTT, which was common parlance in 2020? Do you think theatres will re-emerge and streaming platforms be back to showcasing web shows only?
People will return to the theatres once the fear of the virus goes away. I think certain films that struggle to get a sufficient number of shows and have to pay for that besides publicising the film on a large scale, will now be made for OTT only. Even when I was growing up, certain Hollywood films went straight to DVD. I can certainly say this for myself that if I sit to write a film hereafter, I shall ponder where I want to land it and write accordingly.
Would you have been okay with releasing ‘Blind’ on OTT if it had been ready in April 2020?
You can answer that question if you are a solo producer in a film, not if others’ (Avishek Ghosh, Manisha W, Pinkesh Nahar, Sachin Nahar, Hyunwoo Thomas Kim are co-producing ‘Blind’ with Sujoy) money is involved.