Its no surprise that Vipul Shah’s production house is called ‘Blockbuster Movie Entertainers’. After all, he has been responsible for delivering back to back blockbuster entertainers such as Waqt, Namastey London and Singh Is Kinng in the recent past. Now Vipul Shah is all set to unleash yet another entertainer-London Dreams which he feels has all the qualities of a potential blockbuster. In an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama, Vipul shares his experience making London Dreams– one of the most awaited films of this year.
From Namastey London to London Dreams…your fascination with London doesn’t seem to stop…why such a title?
It’s just a coincidence…nothing more than that (laughs). London Dreams is a story of two friends and talks about their journey from childhood till the age of 35. They want to pursue their dream of becoming great musicians, going abroad and creating a band and conquering the world of music. Typically in India, that’s a trend that happens from Punjab to London. Youngsters from Punjab want to go to London and cut their album in their underground style etc. That’s why logically the story had to be set in Punjab and London and since it’s about them chasing their dreams in London hence the title London Dreams.
London Dreams is a story of two friends and talks about their journey from childhood till the age of 35
The tagline of the film goes ‘When your dreams come true for your best friend’. What does that exactly mean?
Well…that you will have to watch the film and find out. I don’t want to spoil the fun. However, I would like to say that whenever your friendship is strong, it stands the test of time and it finds resolution to every situation. That’s a thought we have tried to portray through the tagline. It’s a very interesting take on friendship- about 2 friends, both part of the same band, both who want to be big musicians and how both end up falling in love with the same girl…that’s what forms the crux of the story.
The film brings back the hit jodi of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan back together after a hiatus of almost a decade…( Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam)…how did you manage such a casting coup
I don’t think it’s a coup. I am surprised that nobody had thought of casting them together in the first place after HDDCS. Both Ajay and Salman are fantastic actors. While Ajay has been treated as a great actor, Salman hasn’t got his due as an actor. Originally this film was to be directed by Rajkumar Santoshi. Some things happened and the project couldn’t take off. That’s when Salman came to me with the script requesting me to produce and direct the film. After reading the script, I told Salman ‘This doesn’t work for me and I will have to re-write the whole script.’ He was ok with the idea, so I changed the script completely. While writing, I realized that the second part was so strong that I could only see Ajay Devgn doing that. When I met Ajay and narrated the script, he loved it and came on board. So that is how the casting came about.
I am surprised that nobody had thought of casting Ajay and Salman together after Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
After having mainly worked with Akshay Kumar, how was the experience working with Ajay and Salman?
I think it’s been a fantastic experience. I had heard a lot of things about Salman being moody and Ajay being reserved and various other stories which people circulate but when I worked with them, I found them absolutely fascinating. They both are very professional and superb human-beings and the most important thing is that they have no sense of competition between them. They are both extremely secure in their own space which created a beautiful environment on the sets. The camaraderie on the sets was fantastic and you will see the positive result of that when you watch the film on the big screen.
What made you select Asin for the female lead?
I wanted an actress to play the character of a Tamil Iyer girl who is born and brought up in London and knows both classical and western dance. I had seen Asin’s work in Tamil films and was impressed. I thought she was the best choice to play the Tamil Iyer girl hence we approached her and she readily agreed. In a way, I consider myself lucky that all the actors whom I actually wanted for this film readily agreed to be a part of it.
I wanted an actress to play the character of a Tamil Iyer girl who is born and brought up in London and knows both classical and western dance and hence I approached Asin
There were reports that Asin was a bit upset when she saw that she doesn’t feature much in the initial promos…is it true?
(Laughs) Today it’s very difficult to defend yourself because nobody believes what you say. So even if I scream from the rooftops saying that there was no problem whatsoever, people are not going to believe. On a serious note, no actor behaves like this in reality. An actor doesn’t dictate terms on how he / she should be featured in the promos. They all know that finally it’s the film which should do well. So it’s all rubbish. Nobody is going to be so immature talking and complaining about such things.
Since the film is about a rock band, comparisons with Rock On are inevitable…how do you react to such comparisons?
The comparisons are not just with Rock On. I have heard people comparing the film to Amadeus, then the other day, somebody came and told me that it resembles Yaarana (starring Amitji and Amjadji), someone said it looks like Abhimaan (starring Amitji and Jayaji). The good thing is that all these films are good films, so I am happy that at least they are comparing my film to a good film. On a more serious note, when you have a Rock On which recently released, it would be foolish on my part to make a similar film. That much common sense any director would have. We have taken care to ensure that the story, characters, the basic drama are completely different to a film like Rock On. Mine is an original film where we have tried to create our own world of music. Moreover, the music in my film is not rock but more of pop. So there is nothing remotely similar between Rock On and my film.
We have taken care to ensure that the story, characters, the basic drama are completely different to a film like Rock On
Music surely plays an important role in a film like this, how has the music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy (SEL) evolved? Moreover, wasn’t A.R. Rahman supposed to do the music initially…then how did SEL come on board?
When Mr. Rajkumar Santoshi was supposed to make this film, A.R. Rahman had been approached to do the music. In fact, even after the film came to me, we had talks with Rahman but he could not provide us with the time commitment which we required. Then I immediately thought of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. The brief I gave them was that since the film is a musical, the music of the film has to be spectacular; in fact it’s no less than the 3rd hero of the film. I wanted them to give a score which would not just be popular but be remembered by people for years to come and I think that we have got somewhere in achieving that goal. I also want to compliment Prasoon who has written some really thought provoking lyrics and I am extremely satisfied.
A particular song ‘Barso Re‘ has run into some controversy because of Salman reciting few lines of the Hanuman Chalisa. Could you please clarify what exactly happened?
There is no controversy as such. The Censor Board wanted to be more cautious because these days everything tends to become a sensitive issue so it was referred to the Tribunal Appellate. The Hanuman Chalisa is used in a very relevant context. There is a crisis situation during one ofthe concerts and Salman being the simple boy from Punjab calls for Lord Hanuman (who is often referred to as Sankatmochan – or the troubleshooter). That’s when he breaks into an impromptu recital of the Hanuman Chalisa and the crisis gets resolved. So it’s shown in a very positive manner and even the Tribunal Appellate understood this and gave it their approval.
From the looks if it, the songs (especially the concert numbers) have been shot very lavishly. Could you share the experience of shooting the concert songs?
Yes…if you see some of the concert songs, you will know that it has indeed been shot in a grand way. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get to shoot inside the Wembley Stadium due to logistical reasons but we did manage to recreate a similar kind of a set-up in Mumbai and Karjat for the concert songs.
You also shot at some rare and prestigious locations like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. Talk us through that…
Yes…coincidentally while we were shooting in Paris, President Sarkozy had just won the election, so as a part of some special celebration, the Eiffel tower was lit up in blue for a certain time period. It was very lucky that we could get to shoot in front of a blue coloured lit up Eiffel tower. I think its one of the rare films in which you will get to see a blue coloured lit up Eiffel tower. We also shot at some historic locations like the Louvre and Heathfield in London (which was the palace where Queen Elizabeth- I was coroneted). We also shot some key portions inside the Royal Albert Hall…all in all it’s been a fantastic experience.
A lot has also been spoken about the whipping scene where Ajay whips himself….the scene bears an uncanny resemblance to a scene from The Da Vinci Code…what is the significance of the scene in the film.
The scene is a very dramatic point in the film. There is no similarity to the shot from Da Vinci Code as there is no religious connotation to the scene in my film.
This is one of the rare films in which you will get to see a blue coloured lit up Eiffel tower
What’s next in line after London Dreams?
After London Dreams, there is a film directed by Barnali Shukla called Kuch Love Jaisa which I am producing. It’s a story of a housewife and a criminal who coincidentally meet in a restaurant and that one meeting changes their respective lives. It’s a very interesting and entertaining film and stars Rahul Bose and Shefali. We are currently in the last schedule of the film. After that, there is my directorial venture Action Replay which is a romantic comedy with a bit of fantasy starring Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Neha Dhupia, Om Puri, Kirron Kher, Rajpal Yadav and Randhir Kapoor (who would be making a comeback with third film). The film should be out sometime in the summer of 2010. Besides there are two films in the pipeline with Fox Star India Ltd. and also plans of making the sequel to Singh Is Kinng which should start sometime next year.
Finally London Dreams is releasing alongside yet another biggie Aladin on October 30th …what do you think would be the main draw for people to watch your film?
There are a lot of reasons why people should come and check out the film:-
a) My track record- I make films for the audience. With all humility, I say that, I have been able to connect with the audiences each and every time I have made a film. The entire family can watch this film together and they will enjoy the experience.
b) Great casting, outstanding music, a very interesting storyline and a scale that has never been shown so far. It is not a no – brainerentertainer but an intelligent, sensitive and sensible entertainer.
c) And lastly…with every film of mine I have tried to convey some message. I believe there should be some take home for the audience and even in London Dreams I have ensured the same. So all in all, it’s a completely enjoyable and entertaining experience that is releasing at a cinema hall near you on October 30th.