Uday Chopra: Vrooming ahead!

Pratishtha Malhotra listens on as Uday Chopra excitedly reveals details of his production house in Los Angeles – one forthcoming film even stars Nicole Kidman!

Uday Chopra: Vrooming ahead!

You’ve played Ali thrice in all the DHOOM instalments. How do you manage to give the same character that edge which allows its essence to remain the same but yet provides something different?

It’s actually a lot to do with the writing. So the writer has to first write it so I can actually enact it. In this case it is about the maturity of the character; Ali’s character has matured over the years, it’s a very subtle difference that most likely people would not get. That also has been done purposely because I think people have loved this character and the relationship between Jai and Ali. So actually you don’t want to change it too much, you want to give them what they loved. Like in part one, Jai recruits Ali and doesn’t let him do much and is always shouting down at him… Ali is scared of him. To go on to ‘Dhoom 2’, there was a little more camaraderie there and Ali can throw tantrums with Jai and this has gone even further. They have kind of become brothers now… Ali kind of completes Jai’ssentences; there is a lot of comfort in the relationship there.

You are an actor and you are a part of YashRaj Films as well… Are there times when you have a conflict with your own self about something not going right according to the producer’s instinct in you, while the actor in you really wants to do it or vice versa?

That happens all the time especially when you are into production and you go and change the hat and start to talk as a producer about something not working or something like that. But luckily thewhole team is my team and everyone knows me so it works out. If there is something on set, then I would speak to the first Assistant Director or the line producer. Yeah, I do that but as little as possible because there I want to concentrate on doing my work as an actor and have fun actually doing that and see how that character comes alive than really wanting to focus on other things. But sometimes because my brother is not on set and if some decision has to be taken, I step in.

We all know how Aditya Chopra is not at all a media person, and you on the other hand are very open to public appearances and media interactions on account of being an actor. Now, when both of you handle YRF, does it become like Aditya Chopra is the man behind YRF while you are its face?

It has got to do with personality, naturally. His personality is such that he doesn’t like being in the public eye, doesn’t like being recognised, doesn’t like his face in newspapers or magazines. I, on the other hand, don’t have an issue with it. I have now started a company in LA, a production house there. So I am producing movies there. But it’s very different there… you can’t say no especially when you are nobody. At the end of the day, we are Yash Raj Films here, a recognised studio that everybody is aware of. We have created a whole bank of value for ourselves that people respect so Adi can very easily sit back and afford to do that because, you know, he’s got all the power with him. I can’t do that in LA because if I don’t really go out and speak, nobody would really careabout who I am and

who I am not. So there is this difference there.

So you’re getting into production full-time now…

Yes, I have set up a production house in LA and we’re producing two films. The first film releases in March and is called ‘Grace Of Monaco’ starring Nicole Kidman. Then we have another film coming on later this year called ‘The Longest Week’. Those films are ready to go actually. There are two more projects – one is a female-based thriller for which I will cast a girl from there. It would be set in India but with actors from there. The fourth film that I am doing is kind of a biopic and it is kind of a romantic film. The script is being written for this one, though.

There have been talks buzzing since a long time that ‘Dhoom 3’, would be the last instalment in the ‘Dhoom’ franchise. Is it?

No, that’s not true. I mean, there is no ‘Dhoom 4’ that’s planned but it’s not that it’s not going to happen. I mean, somebody has to come up with a story. There is definitely no decision that there is not going to be ‘Dhoom 4’. There might be but it would take some time. With ‘Dhoom 3’ too it did take time to find the right story and the right element to make it work. I personally think that there should be a ‘Dhoom 4’ and we should keep making it because it’s good money for us (Laughs)!

YRF is a brand which is known for its bang-on marketing with every film that they come up with. Recently when we saw the merchandise launch of ‘Dhoom’, it was a little unbelievable to see literally everything ‘Dhoom’ based. How do you guys do it and get it right all the time?

It’s like decentralising all the thought processes. One person can’t sit and take all the decisions so we have a Merchandising/ Advertising division which thinks about certain things and pitches an idea.The Marketing division comes up with something; the Creative division comes up with someone. So that is how the studio system works – people come together in a very nice way and you have to have a product like ‘Dhoom’ which is being loved by the masses. The third one is even bigger than what we have done before. Gradually all the plus points that we have created go very well together. I think it is a question of being able to control the entire value chain from the inception of the ideas till the distribution and because we can do that in-house, we have the ability to bring very interesting stuff.

Going way back to ‘Dhoom’, your character Ali and John Abraham’s character introduced bikes to the series – he as the suave bad guy and you as the simple good guy. So are you actually a bike person?

Oh, absolutely! But before ‘Dhoom’, I wasn’t. I hadn’t ridden a bike; I didn’t know how to ride a bike.So when ‘Dhoom’ was being planned, I got excited and felt that it’s really cool. I had ridden a bike in a few movies but nothing to the extent of what was required from me with this film. So I actually had friends who had bikes,fix up a bike for me to ride back from Pune. That was the first time I actually rode a really big, 1000 cc bike on the road. Then I felt it wasn’t enough so I went to London and I started training. I did high speed training with a friend who is an ex-cop. He used to give me instructions on the ear phones and I used to follow them. Then I came back and did ‘Dhoom’ and from then on I started loving bikes. For ‘Dhoom 3’, I did a lot of stunt training, all kinds of wheelies and donuts which hurt me to an extent that I kind of broke my foot while doing one of the stunts in the movie! But I have done my stunts, the zig zag in that kind of traffic and at that speed which is kind of cool… You normally don’t have actors doing that.

You’ve acted and you’ve set foot into production. So are you planning to get into direction as well?

Not right now. I think I need to concentrate on making my company big abroad and it’s a very different kind of a project for me because I am starting from scratch. So I have to give it all the energy and the time.

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