His first directorial venture Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon spoke about dreams and aspirations of small town people. His second film Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh dealt with the insecurities faced by an ordinary man married to an extraordinarily beautiful lady and now he is all set to present his latest venture Striker which deals with the journey of a carrom player
from the ghettos of Mumbai. The person we are referring to is talented director Chandan Arora whose film Striker starring South sensation Siddharth in the lead role is up for release. We caught up with Chandan for an exclusive interview where he revealed all about his latest labour of love.
Striker is your third film after Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon and Main, Meri Patni Aur Woh. What are your expectations this time around?
The same expectations that any filmmaker would have when his film is ready for release… I want maximum people to watch my film and enjoy the cinematic experience that
The title Striker gives an initial feeling that it’s a sports based film… Is it true?
Striker is the story of a carrom player; however it’s not a sports film. It’s more like a biopic of a boy who happens to be a carrom player. The film is set in the ghettos of Mumbai during the 80’s. That essentially forms the crux of the story.
How did you decide to cast Siddharth for the lead role considering he is not very active on the Bollywood scene?
I had seen Siddharth’s first film Boys, a Tamil super-hit film directed by Shankar. I liked him a lot in that film and from then on I kept on following the kind of work he was doing be it in Tamil, Telugu or Hindi cinema. After he did Rang De Basanti, he was clear that he interested in doing some more Hindi films. Initially we were working on a completely different script which was more of a romantic film and during discussions of that film there were some references of Striker which came up that I shared with him. Both of us got excited about the idea and decided to do this film first. The whole project was constructed keeping Siddharth in mind.
I had seen Siddharth’s first film Boys, a Tamil super-hit film directed by Shankar. I liked him a lot in that film
Since the film tells the story of a carrom player, is that your favorite sport and are you an avid carrom player?
No…not really though I have played carrom while growing up with family and friends. What is surprising is the fact that even though carrom as a sport is so common in the underbelly of the country it’s not gained the popularity that it should have. I don’t know why? It’s a great indoor sport that the whole family could play and on any given day, you never know, every player has an equal chance of emerging triumphs on his / her day.
What special training did Siddharth undertake to get into the character of a carrom player?
Fortunately for us, Siddharth was not completely alien to playing carrom. He’s played carrom while growing up with his family and friends like most of us. Whenever we were shooting the carrom sequences, we were shooting with actual carrom players and it was here that he had to make sure that he was on par with them in terms of getting the whole body language and mannerisms right. He worked really hard with a carrom coach that he had and used to keep practicing in between shots. The results are there for
all to see.
Even though carrom as a sport is so common in the underbelly of the country it’s not gained the popularity that it should
The film has two new female leads. Could u tell us a bit about them?
Yea… we have Nicolette Bird and Padmapriya. The story of Striker is the story of a boy right from when he is about 10 years old to when he is in his mid-thirties. Both the female leads have a significant part in the plot though their characters have limited screen time. Hence we decided on casting newcomers with good acting talent who can make an impact in the limited screen time. I came across few clips of Padmapriya on YouTube and Siddharth had also good things to say about her work down South and that is how we zeroed in on her. Nicolette, on the other hand, plays a very important role in depicting the first brush of romance that Siddharth’s character feels. We needed a face which would effortlessly have that kind of beauty and innocence and still depict the kind of sweet romance and we felt Nicolette was best for that
The first name that we came up for the villain’s (Jaleel) character was that of Aditya Pancholi. I’ve always believed he is
a very powerful actor.
Striker also has veterans like Anupam Kher and Aditya Pancholi…how has it been working with them?
It was great. In fact, the first name that we came up with for the villain’s (Jaleel) character was that of Aditya Pancholi. I’ve always believed he is a very powerful actor. At that time, however Aditya wasn’t doing much work so were not too sure if he would agree to do the part. Moreover his character has also been shown in two different age-groups, one during his younger days and one his presd enough to give us time for a narration and hear us out and he got really excited to play the part. In fact when I first met him, he had lost a lot of weight and was looking really young which in fact helped him to play the younger part with ease. He has a great screen presence and really brought in a lot of warmth on the sets. Coming to Mr. Anupam Kher, his part in the film (of Inspector Farooq) is not long in terms of screen time but is very crucial to the screenplay of the film. So when we approached him for the role, we were thrilled that he agreed. He is one of the most sincere and honest actors of our industry. He is world famous and his presence in the film adds a lot of credibility to the project.
Where all have you shot the film?
We’ve shot it completely in Mumbai since the film is set in Mumbai. However since it’s based in the eighties we had to show the skyline how it was during the eighties which s completely different from how it is now and for those sequences we travelled to the outskirts of Mumbai and shot in Kalyan. We also put up a huge set of a basti in Malvani and shot extensively there
The music of the film was released recently and a noticeable aspect was the presence of 6 different composers in the album. Whose idea was that?
The way we went about creating the music for this film has been quite different from the conventional way. When we started working on the project, both Siddharth and I were very clear on the kind of music that we wanted, considering it’s an intense film. We don’t have any characters lip-synching songs since it’s a realistic film. We had a couple of songs recorded before we had started shooting but the balance songs we decided to work on after we had finished shooting and editing the sequences. We then put down a wish-list of different composers whom we wanted to have on board for the film. We were lucky that most of them agreed to come and watch the film and then devote time in composing a track each for the film. I am really fortunate to have names like Gulzar saab, Vishal Bhardwaj, Amit Trivedi, Swanand Kirkire, Yuva Shankar Raja and Blaaze on the album. It’s a fantastic line-up of talented composers and they all enjoyed the process of composing music for the film. Two songs do not feature in the film but the rest of them are all there in the film at crucial junctures.
Siddharth has earlier sung in quite a few of his Telugu and Tamil films and is indeed a talented singer. So we thought it
was best that he only sing this song ‘Bombay Bombay‘.
Siddharth has even sung a song ‘Bombay Bombay’ for the film…Right?
Yes…since the film is set in the eighties, the song is called ‘Bombay Bombay‘ and not ‘Mumbai Mumbai‘ (smiles). I have been born and brought up in Mumbai and truly feel that this songs is a perfect tribute to a city in which the story of the film is based. The songs plays ode to the spirit of Mumbai. Siddharth has earlier sung in quite a few of his Telugu and Tamil films and is indeed a talented singer. So we thought it was best that he only sing this song.
Striker is releasing a week before the biggie My Name Is Khan. Do you think it will be able to stand its own against such a big film?
The release strategy has been completely decided by the distribution arm of Indian Films and Studio 18. All the trade, marketing and distribution decisions are taken by
them keeping their profit and loss situations in mind. My Name Is Khan is no doubt a huge film and it would be unfair to compare the two films.
Finally what is next on your agenda after Striker?
I have 3 -4 ideas in mind that I am currently working on. There are many interesting stories to be told and whichever one of them shapes up really well will be the one I’ll embark on first.