He remade his own Marathi classic Dombivili Fast into Tamil as Evanu Oruvan and now he is remaking the Tamil blockbuster Kaakha Kaakha in Hindi as Force. Presenting one of the most talented filmmakers in the country- Nishikant Kamat, who in a free-wheeling chat with Bollywood Hungama's Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, talks about Force John, and the new villain on the block- Vidyut Jamwal.
Force is a remake of the Tamil blockbuster Kaakha Kaakha. How much have you changed the film from the original Tamil flick?
I re-scripted the film for 4 months with my writer Ritesh Shah. I really liked the love story in the Tamil film but I had to make a few necessary changes as certain scenes work better with Suriya's personality while certain scenes work better with John's personality. Both are good looking guys but both have different intensities. As far as the heroine is concerned, Jyothika had a mature look in the Kaakha Kaakha but in Force, we wanted someone who makes the transition from a girl to a woman and hence Genelia fit the bill. She has a certain innocence about her which makes it appealing. As far as the action is concerned also I have made a few changes. Kaakha Kaakha had a backdrop of gang-wars but I felt that it's been done to death in Hindi cinema which is why I changed the setting and have depicted the drug cartels which operate in the country. So while Suriya played an encounter specialist in the Tamil film, John plays a Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) officer. But primarily I have stuck to the spine of the story though the canvas, setting, scale has changed.
Considering Vipul Shah approached you to direct the film, was he okay with the changes or did he want it to be an exact remake of Kaakha Kaakha?
I had already seen Kaakha Kaakha when I was in Chennai around 5 years back. Little did I know then that one day I would be directing its Hindi remake. When John and Vipul met me, I again revisited the film. I told them clearly that I would only do it if I am able to make it as per my sensibilities. There were some elements in Kaakha Kaakha which didn't gel with my sensibilities. I didn't want to do a frame by frame remake. They were absolutely fine with it. I and my writer Ritesh Shah re-wrote the entire script.
Do you think John will live up to the high performance standard set by Suriya?
I wanted to present John differently. He has put on almost 15 kgs for this role. If you start comparing every frame with Kaakha Kaakha, probably you won't like my film. I am looking at it as a fresh film. Suriya was fabulous but so is John in Force. I am very confident about his performance. Let the audience decide after they watch it. You will see a different John and you will see some of the best executed action sequences of this year.
A lot of people feel that John's look is too flamboyant for a cop. What do you have to say about that?
John plays an undercover cop with the NCB. You will be surprised but these people who work for NCB are undercover most of the time. They are never in the normal get-up. John's look is very similar to that of an undercover cop whom I happened to meet through one of my friends who works in NCB. Besides the look with tattoos etc. which you see in the posters is only for a particular sequence in the film in which John is on a special mission. It's not like that he sports the same look throughout the film.
Is it true that you were planning to cast Asin for the female lead? How did Genelia come on board thereafter?
Yes...Asin was among the few actors we had shortlisted but she had major date issues as she was busy with Ready so we didn't pursue it further. We wanted someone who could make the transition from girl to woman effortlessly. There are very few actors in the industry who can play a girl and a woman equally convincingly and Genelia is one of them. She has done an awesome job in the film and is looking really cute
Force also has a new actor Vidyut playing the main villain. How did you zero in on him for such a powerful role?
The villain needed to be a very strong personality. We were wondering whom we could pit against John. We went through a rigorous process of auditions and meeting people. Finally, I came across Vidyut through a friend of mine. He has been a model for a while and more importantly he is heavily into various forms of martial arts. He's done Kalaripayattu, Jujitsu, is a free runner, and also trained in Parkour. I saw his show reel of action and I was really impressed. I knew that he could look menacing enough but needed to make sure that he could act as well. When he gave his screen test, the first thing which struck me was his baritone voice. He has a superb voice. After 2-3 days of audition, I realised I can mould him. Finally we had him ready. He is truly the surprise package of Force.
Kaakha Kaakha was a really violent film. Have you toned down the violence in Force?
Violence definitely has been toned down because among other things you want family audiences to watch the film. However, we have not compromise when it comes to the quality of action sequences. The film has some of the best action scenes you would have ever witnessed and both John and Vidyut have done their own stunts.
The music of Force is given by Harris Jayaraj who also composed music for Kaakha Kaakha. Was it your decision to have the same composer on board?
It was Vipul's decision but I had no objection at all as I have always liked Harris Jayaraj's music be it Minnale, Kaakha Kaakha or Anniyan. His music grows slowly on you. Khwabon Khwabon is doing really well on the music charts and I am confident that the other tracks will also soon pick-up.
You were earlier seen as an actor in 404. Any other acting assignments in the pipeline...
I have been offered a couple of roles but I didn't take up any. I was too tied up with Force. Now that I am done with Force, agar kisi ne achcha role offer kiya to kar loonga.