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19 Years of Kaal EXCLUSIVE: Soham Shah reveals the tigers were trained extensively for three months and were flown from the USA to Thailand; also says, “Yash Johar ji told me, ‘You youngsters think you can write anything in the script and you think we’ll put in money? How will you show tigers?’”

en Bollywood News 19 Years of Kaal EXCLUSIVE: Soham Shah reveals the tigers were trained extensively for three months and were flown from the USA to Thailand; also says, “Yash Johar ji told me, ‘You youngsters think you can write anything in the script and you think we’ll put in money? How will you show tigers?’”

The adventure supernatural thriller, Kaal (2005), completed 19 years on April 29. It starred Ajay Devgn, Vivek Oberoi, John Abraham, Esha Deol and Lara Dutta and was backed by Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions and Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment. The film was quite hot due to the casting, thriller zone and also because it had the super-hit song ‘Kaal Dhamaal’, featuring Shah Rukh Khan and Malaika Arora. It was the fourth biggest opener of the year, ahead of bigger films. Though the response was mixed, the film continues to be remembered and watched.

19 Years of Kaal EXCLUSIVE: Soham Shah reveals the tigers were trained extensively for three months and were flown from the USA to Thailand; also says, “Yash Johar ji told me, ‘You youngsters think you can write anything in the script and you think we’ll put in money? How will you show tigers?’”

19 Years of Kaal EXCLUSIVE: Soham Shah reveals the tigers were trained extensively for three months and were flown from the USA to Thailand; also says, “Yash Johar ji told me, ‘You youngsters think you can write anything in the script and you think we’ll put in money? How will you show tigers?’”

One of the most memorable scenes of the film was when the actors came face-to-face with three tigers. This was also the part of the film where Ajay Devgn makes a massy entry into the narrative. Interestingly, the film was shot with real tigers with no VFX. As Kaal celebrated its 19th anniversary, director Soham Shah talked exclusively with Bollywood Hungama about this unforgettable sequence and how he had to go to insane lengths to get tigers that could perform.

Soham Shah began by saying, “I have always been averse to using too much VFX. I believe that VFX should be used only where required. When VFX is used extensively, it breaks the connection from reality for the audience.”

He then went back in time and revealed, “I was too young when I wrote Kaal. I never thought before writing that ‘Yeh shoot bhi karna hai’ (laughs)! I was very naïve. Once Karan Johar read the script, he gave his nod to produce it. That script then went on the table of Mr Yash Johar, Karan Johar’s father. He was a very intelligent and experienced producer. He called me to his cabin. He slammed the script on the table and thundered, ‘You youngsters think you can write anything and come! And you think we’ll put in money and make your film?’ I understood he was angry. I asked him, ‘What happened, sir?’. He replied, ‘In 1952, Sunil Dutt saab or Dev Anand saab wanted permission to shoot in Jim Corbett National Park. But the government never gave permission. Do you even know what it takes to get permission? And how will you show tigers?’.”

19 Years of Kaal EXCLUSIVE: Soham Shah reveals the tigers were trained extensively for three months and were flown from the USA to Thailand; also says, “Yash Johar ji told me, ‘You youngsters think you can write anything in the script and you think we’ll put in money? How will you show tigers?’”

Soham added, “Yash ji then told me, ‘Without my endorsement, go to Corbett National Park. If you get permission, then I’ll make this film’. I took up the challenge and thankfully, things fell in place. In 10-15 days, I managed to get the permission after which Yash ji greenlit the project.”

Another challenge still lay in front of the director. “Then, I developed contacts and realized that in India, you are not allowed to shoot with tigers or any wild animal, in fact. I realized that I’d either have to show tigers through VFX or shoot them abroad. VFX in those days was not developed and was very tacky,” he said.

He continued, “I started researching trained tigers and there were none in those days. They were trained lions but my film is about tigers. Also, there are no lions in Corbett Park.”

A Fardeen Khan film then gave Soham Shah some ray of hope. He revealed, “During my research, I found out that in the movie Janasheen (2003), there was a tiger sitting next to Feroz Khan in a scene. I decided to find out about them and my search took me to Thailand. The line producer took me to a petting zoo. But these tigers can’t perform. Again, I was stuck.”

19 Years of Kaal EXCLUSIVE: Soham Shah reveals the tigers were trained extensively for three months and were flown from the USA to Thailand; also says, “Yash Johar ji told me, ‘You youngsters think you can write anything in the script and you think we’ll put in money? How will you show tigers?’”

Soham Shah then stated, “Finally, I got in touch with the action director of Gladiator (2000). He put me in touch with the tiger trainer who had trained tigers for that film. Those tigers then extensively trained for 3 months in the USA for the sequences we wanted to do. Logistically, it was not possible to take the unit to the USA; it would have been expensive. The jungles of the USA also wouldn’t have matched those in India.”

He continued, “Finally, we got those three tigers from the USA to Thailand. We also flew to Thailand and shot the sequence with these animals with the help of action director Allan Amin. It was scary and also, it was an adventurous shoot.”

For a young director, it must have been high to have such a popular cast and big names backing his film. Soham Shah agreed, “It was a dream come true to have your first film being produced by Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar. We also had a fantastic star cast like Ajay Devgn, Vivek Oberoi, who was at his peak and John Abraham after Dhoom (2004).”

Kaal keeps trending on OTT platforms every now and then at that point, especially among the youth, the film generated a craze. Soham Shah smiled and said, “Even after 19 years, people do remember the film, especially the songs. The song ‘Kaal Dhamaal’ gave the film a boost.”

More Pages: Kaal Box Office Collection


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