PRATISHTHA MALHOTRA in conversation with director duo Vipul Shah and A R Murgadoss

The producer and the director duo Vipul Shah and A R Murgadoss are proud of their film ‘Holiday’. The director Murgadoss is a little less of a talker but with the producer Shah, the team is balanced. While the director started the Rs.100 crore trend in B’town and is not a stranger to the much talked about numbers, the producer shares a very close bond with Akshay Kumar, the protagonist of the film and has worked with him for years now…and when you combine the two, one does create a gem of a film.

You started the trend of remaking a South film and taking it to the Rs.100 crore league with ‘Ghajini’, which everyone raves about today. When you make a ‘Holiday’ today, which again is a remake of ‘Thuppakki’, what thoughts went into the making? Was there pressure?

A R Murgadoss: When I made ‘Ghajini’, I didn’t expect all the Rs.100 crore clubs and everything. I just focused on my work and made my film. Just like we worked very hard on ‘Ghajini’, we worked very sincerely while making ‘Holiday’ as well. My main aim is to reach the people. My hope is that people will love the film.

You have worked in both the industries, the South Indian film industry and Bollywood. While you approach a film now, how do you balance both the sensibilities?

A R Murgadoss:  The language and the actors are totally different. When I work with an actor from down south, you can’t expect them to have a body language like Akshay (Kumar) Sir. Everyone has a different body language. So that is different, the language is different. When I do a film with Akshay Sir, it has to be a completely different action film and I don’t compare anything with any other actor or my old films. So I take my script and I do the film.

I read somewhere that in your films, the hero of the film defines how the action is going to be. This is such an interesting approach to action…

A R Murgadoss:  I mean, yes! If the army guy is fully trained that would be different from a businessman doing action in ‘Ghajini’. The sequence is also very important, as to why the fight? Why the action sequence? In ‘Holiday’ one army guy handling other army guys and killing a terrorist would be different. If some goon trouble’s someone’s sister, it would be different. So that is how the action sequence is designed.

You’re a producer and a director together, so have you had moments when you have had creative tiffs inside of you when one doesn’t agree with the other?

Vipul Shah:  First and foremost when I am a producer, I am a producer and a producer has a very different role from a director’s role. I do my role. I have a director who is so capable so why would I want to get creatively involved with the film? It’s not that I don’t get creatively involved but it is only that I believe that the film is made only with the director’s vision. If, as a producer, I feel that this film is very expensive then it is better I not make the film rather than saying yes initially and creating a nightmare for the director every day. Murgadoss Sir is very planned. He knew the exact number of days that he wanted to shoot for the film. His entire requirement of the film was in front of me. There has never been a case where I felt, Oh! There is too much money going in. It was never like that. It was all pre-planned and we followed the plan. I believe that creatively what I feel, I may discuss it with him but the final decision on the film has to be his. We don’t even touch one frame of the film, if he does not want it changed and he changes it if he wishes to. It’s not like he is in Chennai and I change the edit over here. It doesn’t work like this and it won’t happen ever. I can only suggest something or the other to him but that is only a friendly suggestion. It is his film and I am the producer, it is a very clear. When I became a producer, I was frustrated with the producers. I want my directors to feel that ‘Thankfully he is not a painful producer. He is a good producer, doesn’t interfere, doesn’t trouble us, allows me to work’. And that’s how I want to be.

You and Akshay have had a close bond over the years and have done quite a few films together. But there were unpleasant rumours about Akshay (Kumar) allegedly not being keen on signing up for ‘Holiday’. Was there any truth to it?

Vipul Shah: Akshay has been attached to this film from 2010. At that time Murgadoss Sir came to me and narrated the first half of the film. The next day we narrated it to Akshay and he said if the second half was ready he would start shooting from the very next day! Murgadoss Sir wrote the second half which took its own time and now the film is ready. But the fact is that Akshay was attached to the film from that day. I don’t know what these murmurs are. He (A R Murgadoss) has seen Akshay and I together, you can ask him if we have any problem.

Akshay calls you the master of depicting violence on screen. Taking a trained professional that Akshay is and combining him with your sense of action, how did you make everything happen?

A R Murgadoss:  All the while, it is not violent. You can say that it is very well stylised action and Akshay makes everything look great. The kids are loving the action sequences. Apart from one encounter scene, there isn’t any violence but a lot of action.

‘Holiday’ is about terrorism and sleeper cells which people are not too well versed with. Recently you even made a statement saying that you love commercial cinema but you want to make films with meaning.

Vipul Shah: I believe you have to be true to yourself and true to your script. If you make a film with honesty and good content, I think there are enough people in this country who would want to see the film. At the end of the day, I want people to love the film that we have made. I want people to find it worth their effort and time that they are giving to the film. We also want that film to remain in their memory. There are films that you see and you forget right when you are out of the theatre but there are some that you remember for a long time. I want my film to be remembered for a long time whether I am a producer or a director. Till the end of my life I will be very proud to say yes on being a producer of ‘Holiday’ and that’s the kind of film I want to be in always. Yes, there are projects which one does for money but luckily I have stayed away from them and I hope to stay away from them in the future as well.

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