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17 Years Of Waqt EXCLUSIVE: Was Abhishek Bachchan the original choice for the role-played by Akshay Kumar? Vipul Shah CLEARS the air

en Bollywood News 17 Years Of Waqt EXCLUSIVE: Was Abhishek Bachchan the original choice for the role-played by Akshay Kumar? Vipul Shah CLEARS the air

17 years ago, on April 22, 2005, producer-director Vipul Shah released a touching father-son saga, Waqt – The Race Against Time. Starring Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Priyanka Chopra, and Shefali Shah, the film worked well thanks to the moving plot, super-hit songs, performances, and the comic moments of Boman Irani and Rajpal Yadav. As the film celebrated its 17th anniversary, Bollywood Hungama exclusively spoke to Vipul Shah about the film and a lot more.

17 Years Of Waqt EXCLUSIVE: Was Abhishek Bachchan the original choice for the role-played by Akshay Kumar? Vipul Shah CLEARS the air

17 Years Of Waqt EXCLUSIVE: Was Abhishek Bachchan the original choice for the role-played by Akshay Kumar? Vipul Shah CLEARS the air

You debuted as a Bollywood director with the thriller, Aankhen (2002). What made you switch genres and direct a family film like Waqt – The Race Against Time?
It was based on the play 'Awajo Vahala Phari Malishu' that I had seen in the rehearsal room. I couldn’t stop crying while I was watching it. I told the writer of the play, Aatish Kapadia, that according to me, this is a super-hit play. Even if the play does not turn into a super-hit, I’ll still make it into a film. This was a time when Aankhen had not even been released. Aatish agreed and we shook hands that very day. Even the film version was written by Aatish.

After making a thriller, nobody in the trade thought that I could make a family film. Those days, we used to instantly get labeled. I was expected to make 5-6 thrillers back-to-back. I was not in favour. Moreover, I did not understand the industry’s dynamics then. I still don’t! Anyways, that’s fine. Doubts were cast even on Lagaan (2001). It keeps happening.

Though Amitabh Bachchan and Akshay Kumar walked away with all the praises, the fact is that even Shefali Shah and Priyanka Chopra gave great performances…
Amitabh Bachchan recommended Shefali’s name as it’s a crucial part of the film. Thankfully, Shefali jumped at it and she got the role. Priyanka, meanwhile, was the rising star. So if you look back, it was a film with a massive star cast. Priyanka though was relatively new. But what an amazing actor and star she has turned out to be!

According to the film’s Wikipedia page, you had initially thought of casting Abhishek Bachchan and Amitabh Bachchan, the real-life father-son duo, in the film…
I was supposed to do another film with Abhishek. It led to confusion, as many thought it was Waqt – The Race Against Time. As for the film that I was supposed to do with Abhishek Bachchan, the script didn’t shape up as we had expected it to be. Meanwhile, things fell into place with Waqt – The Race Against Time.

The film is remembered today for the comic relief provided by Boman Irani and Rajpal Yadav. Was this track present in the play as well?
Yes, it was. Some of the scenes were so hilarious that we did not change even one line or setting in the film! We just needed some amazing performers to act out these lines. The chemistry of Amitabh Bachchan, Boman Irani and Rajpal Yadav set those scenes on fire.

Boman Irani’s recurring dialogue ‘Yeh toh kuch bhi nahi hai’ has become a very famous meme!
That’s because we all know people who are like that, who claim to know everything about everything! When Aatish and I were working on Aankhen, we met somebody like Boman’s character. Aatish though added his own touch to the character. So, credit for it goes to him. Also, since the character was so real, that’s why it resonated so strongly.

Wikipedia also states that Akshay Kumar, at one point, wanted to produce Waqt – The Race Against Time. Is that true?
No, it’s not. Until Namastey London (2007), Akshay was dead against getting into production. He used to say, “Yaar, I am happy right now. I act, I go home and I chill.” He didn’t want the added responsibilities that come when you get into production. Of course, with time, it all changed and he has become such an amazing producer now.

The mahurat of Waqt – The Race Against Time was very memorable. As per reports, it was held at Juhu Beach so that the common man can also have a glimpse of it. What struck me while watching it is that nowadays, we don’t get to see such events happening…
Yes. Ab toh kahan aisa mahurat wagera hota hai. Most of the national news channels played it live. I was also surprised; I had not even imagined it’ll become so big! However, I wanted to let everyone know that we are making a father-son story and hence, we wanted to connect with the people directly. Akshay and Amitabh came on stage and performed in the mahurat. We got a tremendous response, especially with the channels airing it live.

You also got the music right. The song ‘Do Me A Favour Let’s Play Holi’ is a must every year during the Festival of Colours…
Music has a very big role to play in Indian cinema. If you can get it right, it gives you tremendous returns. The Holi song is a case in point. It is now a part of any and every Holi party. The beauty of Waqt – The Race Against Time is that the character lines and the songs both got immense popularity.

You recently said that the critics were not kind to Namastey London and that one reviewer said that two of the worst films of 2007 were Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag and Namastey London! Did the critics bash Waqt – The Race Against Time as well or did they like the film?
Actually, just 1 or 2 critics had found Namastey London to be very boring. Otherwise, it got decent ratings. Waqt – The Race Against Time, however, got very good ratings.

You and Akshay Kumar at one point worked in several films. He even worked in your productions like Singh Is Kinng (2008) and Holiday – A Soldier Is Never Off Duty (2014). When can we see you and Akshay Kumar collaborate once again for a film?
The problem is that we both are searching for a script that would blow us away. That struggle is on. Let’s see how soon we find a script that excites both of us. We both keep meeting and discussing working together. However, we need to have a script that is better than Holiday – A Soldier Is Never Off Duty simply because we need to give audiences better than what we gave them last time.

You mentioned that you are going to direct an action thriller. What’s the status of this project?
I am still writing it. There’s another script that has got ready. So, maybe I’ll direct that.

Are there any plans to make Commando 4?
We are searching for the right idea to take it to the next level. Lekin yeh film banegi zaroor.

Recently, it was reported that John Abraham has got the rights of Force from you…
John and I had a discussion. He has a terrific and a very different version for the series. So, I happily parted with the rights. I am looking forward to seeing part 3 of Force. I am sure he’ll make a terrific film out of it. He’s the best guy to do that role. All my wishes are with him.

When does your film The Kerala Story go on floors?
We are looking at rolling it in the next 3-4 months' time. The prep work is already on.

Could you tell us about the cast of the film?
I’ll announce it very soon.

The announcement of The Kerala Story was made around a week after the release of The Kashmir Files. Many assumed that the blockbuster success of The Kashmir Files prompted you to make this film…
I don’t think that any two films are similar. We’ve been working on The Kerala Story for more than a year. It’s not possible that 6 days after the release of The Kashmir Files, we’ll write a script and announce a new film. The director Sudipto Sen has been doing the research for 3-4 years. It so happened that The Kashmir Files was released and people now assume that there’s going to be a race to make such films. Moreover, our film is very different from The Kashmir Files. Anyway, log toh bolenge. As long as we can make a good film, that’s what matters.

More Pages: Waqt - Race Against Time Box Office Collection


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