Friday, June 23, 2006
His family has been in the business since the past 30 years. Sachin Bajaj, whose family has been in the film distribution and production business, will soon be making his directorial debut with Naksha. The film stars Sunny Deol, Viveik Oberoi and Sameera Reddy. We spoke to the young director at the onset of his new venture.
We're talking about your directorial debut, Naksha. Tell us a little about yourself. How is it that you decided to get into direction?
My father is a film distributor. So my family has been a part of the film fraternity since the past thirty years. I started learning distribution with my father, while I was still in college. I went on to assist Ashok Amritraj on two of his English films. I did that for about six months. Then I progressed to Shankar's Jeans, down south. I did the Hindi and Tamil version. Then I assisted Indra Kumar in Mann and finally I am here. It's been a journey of about 6-7 years.
Your father is producing the film. So were you involved with the production as well?
I did contribute with whatever I knew about production.
So did you find it difficult, juggling direction and production?
There is no difficulty as such. The only thing is that you are always cost conscious. Since your dad's the producer, the cost consciousness is there. At the same time, me being the director, I want everything! It's a struggle between the two. Luckily for me, my father is very open minded. He gave me much more than I could ask for.
Why did you decide to debut with an action adventure flick?
I feel we haven't seen the adventure genre in Indian cinema, for sometime. It's an exciting genre which excites me. I have been a big adventure film buff, since I was a kid. Westerns and adventure flicks have always excited me. My first film was supposed to be Baraat, which didn't take off. Then this idea came to me. Whenever I spoke to people, I would always tell them to make an adventure flick. It's something that hasn't been done in the recent past and is very challenging. I'm sure it will be something new and fun to watch.
Naksha stars Sunny Deol and Viveik Oberoi. Both these actors are having a dry spell at the box office. Do you think it will affect the prospects of your film?
I think nowadays, we have gone beyond star cast. Films starring the biggest of actors don't do well. At the same time, the smallest of actors give the biggest of hits. That has been proved time and again. At the time that Dhoom released, John, Abhishek and Uday were not stars. But Adi had the confidence. He gave that entire confidence to Sanjay Gadhvi to make the film the way he wanted to. And everyone knows that Dhoom created history. You can't always make films depending on how the box office works. Sunny and Viveik are known all over. I think people will watch the film, if the product is good. A good film always finds its audience.
What is Naksha about?
It's the story of two archaeologists. One is a positive character whereas the other is negative. It's not about a treasure. But as the title suggests, it is related to a map. It's beyond a treasure hunt. It's something far more important and relevant. The film is about the battle between good and evil. There are two brothers who are trying to fulfill their father's unfulfilled mission. Along the journey, they find out what had happened to their father and what caused it. Their father's purpose was different from what they thought it was. When they do realize it, they change their entire thinking. The adventure in the film is its driving force. The story line is based on this map. The good archaeologist dies with the map. The bad archaeologist loses hope of finding the map. Twenty years later, his son chances on the same map, thinking it's his father's unfulfilled dream. Along the journey, people start getting curious and asking too many questions.
Sunny Deol and Viveik Oberoi play brothers. They have a rubber band effect between them. Viveik wants to find out the purpose of the map. Whereas the elder brother's only mission is to take the younger brother back home. Sunny, being the elder brother is far more powerful than Viveik. Viveik always tries to slither away. Finally the map reaches the hand of Jackie Shroff, the bad archaeologist. He tells the brother what the map is about. When they find out, their life changes. The second half deals with Jackie trying to reach his goal. Viveik and Sunny have to reach there before him.
We've heard that there are a lot of action sequences in the film. Tell us something about that.
Yes, there are quite a few stunts. There are sosme pretty crazy things that we did. There was a jump, done at Mahabaleshwar. Sunny, Viveik and Sameera are in it. It was scary but fun.
Were the stars jittery at all?
Not really. They were pretty cool about the action. Sunny Deol is the king of action. Even Viveik was cool about it. Sameera was apprehensive initially, which was understood. But after a while, she was very comfortable. She enjoyed herself, as it was something new. There is a brilliant fight sequence with Sunny Deol, which was shot in Bangkok. There was a rafting sequence shot in New Zealand, shot on a very large scale. There are a lot of CG effects in the film. The climax too is on a very big scale. But it's not just an action flick. The adventure is the driving force whereas the action is the sub text.
Tell us about your experience of working with all the other actors in the film.
The first day Sunny Sir came to shoot, I was a little apprehensive, because I had heard a lot of things about him and his image. When he came on the sets, I was in for a shock. He is the sweetest guy to work with. A director's actor, he is the easiest guy to work with. All that stuff about him not coming on time and other things is all nonsense. On the first day of the shoot, he was on sets even before the entire unit arrived. You feel embarrassed as a director if you are five minutes late.
And quite contrary to his image, he is also known to be quite a softie...
He is just brilliant to work with. He's got a great thinking mind. If he ever gives a suggestion, it is bang on. And he does not give suggestions for his character's benefit. But for the film's benefit. Most people say, "Mera role aisa karo!" But he does not care about his role. If the film works, his character will work. It was a complete pleasure to work with him.
What about Viveik Oberoi? How was he to work with?
We have been friends since his Company days. We were supposed to do Baraat together, which didn't take off. The cast of Naksha was formed in 48 hours. Some things work out whereas some don't. Baraat took me two years. But Naksha clicked. Some things are just meant to be. People also say a lot of things about Viveik, that he has a lot of attitude, etc. None of it is true. He has been a friend. Sameera was also a lot of fun to work with. Initially she was apprehensive, but then she chilled out. She was the most helpful person, to help me out with dates. I've had a couple of messes in terms of dates. She's always the first one to say that she has dates. Jackie da is also in the film. He is great to work with. He's on his own trip in life. He is the most bindaas guy in the world. He is so much fun on the sets. You can never get angry with him. When he comes, the set just lights up. He has got a kick-ass role in the film and he has pulled it off too well.
Another model, Mridula Chandrashekhar is in the film. Tell us about her role.
She has a small role. She plays a tracker along with Jackie. She helps Jackie to get to Sunny and Viveik. She also has a song in the second half of the film.
Coming to the music of the film, how much scope do you think it has, in an action adventure flick? I have five songs in the audio. In the film, there are three songs. One song is the theme song. One is at the end of the film, in the credits. We've not forced in a song in this film. When we wrote the film, we felt that it could not absorb more than three songs. But those three songs have very good situations.
Are their any item numbers?
There are two item numbers. You'll see Sunny Deol dance like you haven't seen him before. He has gone free spirited in one of the songs. The song is called Jat yamla. He's done a brilliant job in that. He looks like a sweet softie in it. He looks to cute in it. I am very kicked about the film. It's not a musical film. But then again, Dhoom wasn't either. Pritam's done a brilliant job. He has given the film more than 100%. It's peppy, young and today.
Pritam has been accused of being unoriginal in the recent past. What do you have to say about such allegations?
People don't know but Pritam is always stressed with the producer. If somebody insists on taking something that already exists, you can't blame Pritam. He's just doing his job.
But then he gets the credits, even if it's not his composition.
He doesn't ask for the credit. He is credited in any case. He always tried and buys the rights of those songs. He told me too, that if I wanted an existing composition, I should buy the rights. He does not try to take undue credit. He is far too talented to need to do this. There are some controversies regarding everyone! Which music director is not blamed for copying? Maybe he is always in a controversy because he is upcoming and doing well for himself.
Does it bother you?
Not at all! In fact, I don't think it bothers anyone.
Are there any special appearances in the film?
I can't say anything right now.
What is the USP of this film?
It's the story. It's an adventure film with a lot of action. Its got humor and every emotion possible. It does not segregate itself to any one kind of audience. It's a two hour five minute joyride. There are songs, emotions, laughter and of course action. Its something that is beyond today's realm. I think the sets are awesome. My DOP has done a phenomenal job. Allan's done a brilliant job in action. I have had a very strong technical team. They have helped me make this product what it is. When it's an action film, it cannot be a small film. When we started off, I was skeptical. But I think we have pulled it off. Today when I see the final rushes, I am very confident. I don't know if it will work or no. But I know that it won't go unnoticed.
Any plans post Naksha?
There are some plans. But it's too premature to talk about it now. Maybe I'll tell you a month from now.