Same time last year, Vipul Shah with his entire cast and crew was busy filming a song from his yet another ambitious film, London Dreams. Jimmy jibs operators, steadicam operator, the choreographer having a word with Vipul, Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan in their shady tents trying to escape the unusually surprising London heat on a busy Sunday London Bridge location. Then I spot her. She looked a loner. I dream about London and her. Me and her walking hand in hand besides the quiet waters of the river Thames.
Here's the thing: She is clad in stretchy skin-tight black from neck to ankle, wearing shoes that blend the architectural with the glossy and ephemeral. Her legs are coyly folded underneath her body. Her long hair is tightly pulled back from her face, which is expertly made up to conquer tiredness and appear fresh. Her skin glows with success. There is no hint of any dubious celebrity tightening or enhancing around the eyes, nose, ears and mouth. Her figure implies that a certain amount of almost surreal attention has been paid to maintaining that body. She ain't the celebrity defined by cliched magazine covers, glamorous videos and spiteful internet gossip. She is as real as it gets after your wishful dream comes true. It's just that mine didn't. This correspondent gets dreamy about Asin Thottumkal in London, and maybe that's the reason she got a comfortable seat all to herself.
Then I hear someone say, "Excuse me dreamer". But here's a dream come true all the way from the receiver end of the telephone...Asin dreams about London, her filming days, her shopping spree, her food habits and hopes her second dream comes true - she hopes it's her second blockbuster hit after Ghajini. All the way from London, here's Asin, my dream girl!
Vipul Shah likes to play a lot with cultures, emotions, sentiments. Is London Dreams any different?
No. London Dreams isn't different from any other Vipul Shah film except that it's a musically inclined film. Yes, you're right. Vipul likes to play with emotions and I wanted myself to get into a project, a film, which is like that and kind of different from Ghajini. I wanted to do a commercial Bollywood film and London Dreams is much bigger in scale than my previous outing.
The first theatrical promo of London Dreams reminded a lot of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam where both Ajay and Salman acted together.
(laughs) There is a parallel there now. There is a lot of drama and emotions like the film you've just mentioned and the theatrical promo reveals that too. I don't think one will be thinking of a Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam when you see London Dreams, except for the fact that both Ajay and Salman are again together. People should take Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam out of their minds and go and watch our film.
Ajay is a prankster, we all know that and Salman not far behind. How many times did they pull your leg?
Seriously, never. Yes, they were trying to make a plan for a prank on me and also tried to work it out in London while we were filming. It just happened once. On the sets it"s always a fun filled atmosphere when you're working with pranksters like Ajay and Salman. I'm sure both had to think of something even more devious to try and make a 'bakra' out of me. I did wish them luck for a better next time but nothing happened.
Is London Dreams an out and out musical journey? Last year same time, Rock On created quite a stir in the industry too.
Even though the premise of the film is related to music, concerts and performances, I basically don't think it moves in the similar path as Rock On did. I want people to go and see London Dreams and figure out themselves whether they find any similarity between Rock On and London Dreams.
Second film and already worked with the three big and best actors of our industry - Aamir, Salman and Ajay. How mature and experienced have you got today?
I think I mature with every shot that I give and every film that I complete. Working with actors who've got so much experience behind them is a boon. You don't consciously think about it but in your subconsciousness, you do think about it. I really come with a clean mind and do not come with a certain image of every different people I'm going to be working with, whether be it media created or public perception. I'd like to get into a person from my own personal experience. I never felt intimidated with either Aamir, Ajay or Salman because when you're working with seniors like them, it is they who create a good atmosphere and they did just that. They never had starry ego problems or a star power syndrome.
Did you ever dream of going to London to shoot a film?
It wasn't my dream to shoot in London but the shoot in London did become a dream. For sure, this has been the best shooting experience of my life, whether the film is a hit or not. I do cherish my moments of working in this beautiful city. Most of the film was shot in London. There was never an instance where each actor would retire to their respective vanity vans and stay there till the next shot was ready. We all used to hang out together, we would talk about our experiences throughout our lives, all the films that we've done, have stories to share, jokes to crack and pull each others leg. The fact that all of it happened in London makes it even more special.
I've never given a compliment like what I'm going to give to any actor. This one goes to you - You're the only actor I've seen on-screen who looks so damn beautiful when you cry.
Oh! (laughs). Wow! That is quite a compliment I must say. Thank you so much and let me grab this compliment before anyone else does (laughs). I am not a very conscious actor as in terms of look or probably as much as my contemporaries are. I am not the one who constantly gives a shot and checks the monitor. I let the director 'ok' my shot. It's nice to hear from your director when he says that you look good in the shot. But it's equally nice to hear that I look beautiful when I cry from critics like you.
What about your shopping spree and junk food experiences of London?
(laughs) Eating experience and that too junk food was not much because I had to keep an eye on whatever I was eating because I had to work towards the look of Priya, the character I'm playing in London Dreams. Not only me, but everybody on the sets were food conscious, Ajay and Salman included. Both had to look into their fitness regime quite a lot as they were working towards building their bodies. Ajay had to work out extra as he had to remove his shirt too. Everybody was into diet food. The only thing we consumed quite a lot was coffee as it was quite freezing while we were shooting. As far as shopping is concerned, it's a very put-together look for Priya. Me and Ashley Rebello, the stylist for our film went out shopping when we got free time from the sets. Forget the branded stores, we shopped from the streets too. I will not say that I did not shop from the branded ones. So here it is - Harrods, Topshop, Selfridges, etc. We did shopping not for me, but to create the look for Priya.
The name London is really lucky for Vipul. His last outing Namastey London was a huge success worldwide. The time has come to be second time lucky?
I hope so because and I pray, because it's not just the second time for Vipul, it's my second film too. So we both hope our dreams to come true (laughs). The film has shaped up quite well and I completely trust Vipul when it comes to understanding the Indians in London and the whole scenario out there. He taps into a lot like the way people live in London, their relationships, their dreams, etc.
This sure must be your dream come true - to shoot a film in the world famous Wembley Stadium.
Yes it was. Oh my God! I haven't been a part of any live concerts at Wembley Stadium but it was a dream come true. We did shoot for a day in Wembley however, the major rock concert in the film was shot in Mumbai by building the sets. But the scenes leading to the song and after that were shot in Wembley. I am a music person, yes. I would love to be a part of live concerts. Although Priya is an exaggerated version of certain traits of my personalities. She has got these two aspects to her personality. One, she is very conservative, traditional girl who is born to a conservative South Indian family. She wants to see herself in the field of music and dance. At home she is traditional but when she steps out, she becomes a rock chic when she joins this band called 'London Dreams'. I have a similar passion which is in Priya.