It’s not easy shooting a film during the pandemic and probably tougher completing it. But filmmaker Karan Johar and director Shashank Khaitan believe in quick, efficient work. A fact that is evident from their current project, Mr Lele. Featuring Vicky Kaushal, Kiara Advani and Bhumi Pednekar, the comic thriller, which went on the floors in April before the second Covid wave struck, is nearing completion. Once the shoot is finished, which is expected to be by the end of the month, Shashank will get into the post-production work and then move on to his next directorial, starring Shanaya Kapoor, Gurfateh Pirzada and Laksh Lalwani, which rolls in October.
Says a source, “Vicky and Kiara are shooting the climax of Mr Lele this week aboard a RoRo. As a producer, Karan believes in sparing no cost for his films to look beautiful and glamorous. The production booked a RoRo ferry (from the boarding point in Mazgaon, Mumbai to Mandwa, Alibaug) for two days for the shoot, which gets wrapped up by this week. It’s a small unit and all Covid protocols are being followed. The cast and crew aboard the ferry have taken their first dose of the Covid vaccine. In fact, the shoot in June, was greenlit by producer Karan Johar only after the cast and crew got the jab.”
The schedule in Mumbai will be Mr Lele’s final one. “They are shooting the climax now, which should get over by the weekend. Prior to the Mumbai schedule, Kiara and Vicky had flown to Pondicherry for a couple of days to shoot some romantic sequences on the beach.”
The rest of the movie has been entirely shot in Mumbai. Within weeks of going on floors in April, the shoot had to be called off after Vicky Kaushal and Bhumi Pednekar contracted Covid-19. The second lockdown imposed in Maharashtra delayed matters further.
Finally, in June, after lockdown restrictions were eased, Shashank and the cast and crew resumed a 10-day schedule at an Andheri bungalow with Vicky, Kiara and Bhumi. “After they shot some indoor sequences, it was followed up with a 40-day schedule across various locations in Mumbai. Vicky apparently plays a conman in the movie, juggling his two love interests — Kiara and Bhumi. While the working title is currently Mr Lele, it may be changed and is being kept under wraps for now.”
Shashank and Karan had announced the project last year with Varun Dhawan and Bhumi Pednekar. While the movie did not roll then for various reasons, the director (who has also written the script) tweaked the script to suit the new cast.
The source informs that once Mr Lele is complete, Shashank will move on to his next movie. He begins prep for the launch of actor Sanjay Kapoor’s daughter, Shanaya’s, debut film. The shoot for the film will kick off with a 40-day schedule in international locales. Shashank may send his team for a recce in South Africa and countries that are allowing shoots. Meanwhile, Shanaya, Gurfateh and Laksh have been attending workshops. The film was supposed to go on the floors in July, but the lockdown put a spanner in the works and had to be postponed.”
There’s also some exciting news for Varun and Alia Bhatt fans. The source adds, “Once the movie is complete by November, Shashank will begin the pre-production of the third part in the Dulhania series. Buzz is, the movie might see Varun and Alia team up once again for this one — they had worked in the first two films in the series, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania and Badrinath Ki Dulhania.”
Interestingly, when Mr Lele was announced last year, Varun was approached to play the title role but he turned it down. Though Varun and Shashank publicly decided to part ways saying that the film was postponed, buzz was the actor had declined to do the film. After a poster of Mr Lele was released with Varun wearing only briefs, he was trolled, with his fans and friends asking why was he doing such a movie. The official statement then released cited dates as an issue. But, Varun backed out and gave his dates away to Bhediyan and Jug Jugg Jiyo. Also, Shashank had announced an action drama, Rannbhoomi, with Varun three years ago, but that too didn’t take off, the sources said.
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