Director Rahul Dholakia opens up on Raees, a film that will take Shah Rukh Khan in a world as far away from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge as Punjab is from London.
Rahul says it wasn't difficult to convince Shah Rukh Khan at all. "I had gone to narrate the script to Shah Rukh (Khan) with my producers Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar. I think Shah Rukh got interested. Because at mid-point he said he's doing the film. I felt like a schoolboy who has just been told he has passed. It's every director's nightmare that an actor would get bored during the script narration."
The second-half of the script had to be apparently reworked a bit. "Not much. But some changes had to be made, though not that much, because it was the unusualness of the script that appealed to Shah Rukh."
What blew Rahul's mind was Shah Rukh Khan's memory. "I went back to him with the second-half of the script after almost a year. He remembered details from the first narration that even I had forgotten. This kind of dedication coming from a superstar of his stature left me deeply impressed."
Rahul who begins shooting for Raees in February-end is now working on Shah Rukh Khan's look and accent. "He plays a man from the ghetto in Gujarat. He will dress and speak in a particular manner."
The idea for the film started on the issue of Prohibition. "We wanted to make a film on the issue. And since Gujarat is the only state that has Prohibition we decided to locate our plot in Gujarat."
The buzz is that Shah Rukh Khan plays a true-life character in Raees. Says Rahul, "His character started off as a real-life person. But as we wrote and re-wrote several drafts of the script, Shah Rukh's character became more and more fictional."
Raees, the film about Prohibition in Gujarat, will be largely shot by its director Rahul Dholakia on a sprawling set in Mumbai representing the slums of Ahmedabad.
The last time Rahul was in Gujarat was to shoot Parzania that hard hitting National-award winning film on the 2002 communal carnage in the State.
But no, Raees and Shah Rukh Khan are not staying away from Gujarat because of the bitter aftermath of Parzania.
Explains Rahul, "It's very practical and logical to not take Shah Rukh Khan into the crowds. He is a star with a mammoth following. And he has a massive following in Gujarat. To shoot with him on the streets in Ahmedabad is not only impractical it's probably suicidal. I remember when we were shooting with Sanjay Dutt in Kashmir for Lamha. Huge crowds would gather and obstruct the shooting."
Rahul Dholakia says he didn't want a repeat of that situation. "We're going to build a set in Mumbai, and do some shooting in Gujarat as well."
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