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Last Thursday, Akshay Kumar-starrer Bell Bottom made a big and risky move by becoming the first big film to release in the theatres. Directed by Ranjit Tewari, the film also features Lara Dutta, Vaani Kapoor and Huma Qureshi. It tells the true story of a hijacking that had occurred during former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s tenure.
In an exclusive conversation with SpotboyE.com, Ranjit talks about the film, fear of releasing the film in theatres, shooting amidst the pandemic, working with Akshay and more. Read excerpts from the interview:
Ranjit, coming to the theatres at this time is a big risk. Do you have any fear or apprehension about that at all?
I won’t use the word fear but there is nervousness and excitement. The fear could have creeped up when we were shooting the film amidst the pandemic. Hopefully, things will work our way the way we expect them to happen. The trailer and the songs have been appreciated. Even the situation is better with people getting vaccinated. So, hopefully things will pan out as expected.
You shot abroad amidst a pandemic. How did your vision for the film change because of that?
The credit goes to the makers that they created such a secure environment where everything was taken care of. The prepping was a bit challenging though as everything was done on zoom calls, even the casting. Doing the entire prep virtually was new to me but when we started shooting, the process went fine as per the protocols. We used to get tested every four or five days, stayed together and didn’t go out anywhere. That kind of discipline was necessary to complete the film.
Did you even give any thought of opting for a hybrid release for the film?
Vashu Bhagnani ji and Jackky Bhagnani are much more experienced in this and it’s their domain. I am sure they have taken the right decision. It is a bold and selfless decision as they are paving way for others and it’s not just about them. They are trying to revive the business and all credit should go to them.
How was it working with a bonafide superstar like Akshay and moulding him in your vision?
The greatness of that man is that he lets you. All the baggage is in our head and slowly he gives you that comfort to leave it behind and express yourself. He gives you the motivation and comfort level to take your vision ahead and at times guide you too. He will discuss with you about his experience and is involved in the script so passionately, so it made the journey really amazing. There was a lot of learning.
You are recreating a true incident in the film that kind of has a political backdrop as it happened during Indira Gandhi’s tenure. You are also portraying that iconic political figure in the film. Is there any fear of an uproar?
There is no political drama in this film, so those things didn’t come in mind. This film is not based on politics even though the story is based on an incident that happened in reality during her tenure. But it has no connect with the political scenario in the country of that time. There were no apprehensions as such but the only concern was to fulfil the responsibility, to fulfil the characters in the right way. Even the censors have passed it with zero cut, so we never thought about it that way.
Recently, you also became a father,. Congratulations on that. Also, your film released, so is it turning out to be one of your best years in life?
Of course. You can’t ask more than this. We had our first child one-and-a-half months back and he is a Bell Bottom kid, as we call him. Having a release of the film also during this time, there can be nothing better.
What was your biggest challenge while shooting Bell Bottom?
The biggest challenge was to shoot during the pandemic, there could be nothing bigger than that. For Vashu ji, to get a live airport with a live Air India plane flying down as per the requirement of our shoot, during a pandemic, can you beat that? When I saw the flight touching the airbase, I couldn’t believe what was happening.
This is Vaani’s first film outside the YRF camp. How was your experience of working with her?
I think Vaani is very talented and focused on what she wants to do. She would have a lot of discussions, ask a lot of questions, which is so good to see. She gave great additions to her character with her initiatives. So, it was very enjoyable to work with her and in the future, I hope to work with her again someday.
Image source: Universal PR, Instagram/akshaykumar
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