Karan Johar’s upcoming production, Ungli, is directed by avant-garde filmmaker and scriptwriter Rensil D’Silva, who is responsible for some of Indian cinemas most thought-provoking screen hits, including Kurbaan, Rang De Basanti, Student Of The Year and the Indian version of award-winning US TV show 24.
Here the director opens up about the film and more…
How would you describe ‘Ungli’?
It is a story about friendship and is a very character-driven film. It’s about what happens when a gang of friends decide to take justice into their own hands. The film itself has a lot of really humorous moments, which adds to the already good storyline.
How did you cope with the delays?
The delays frustrated the hell out of me. I think the worst thing that can happen to a director is for his lead actor to go to jail and for him to face the possibility of an incomplete film. It is something that I have no control over; the only option I could think of was to reshoot it. That is a lot of money and time and the mental stress it puts you under is unparalleled.
Were there any positives that came from the delays?
The music! Had I released Ungli last year, I wouldn’t have gotten these songs. Music is becoming extremely crucial for the success of a film and I think the album is fantastic.
How did you deal with Sanjay Dutt’s legal issues during the filming of ‘Ungli’?
I changed the venue of the shoot from Byculla to Carter Road. The media was chasing him everywhere; they had positioned themselves outside his apartment complex. I felt Carter Road would be easier for him as it is closer to his Pali Hill residence. In some particular scenes I cut out some of his lines, it was the least I could do as a director. I felt that I shouldn’t give him too many lines to remember during that traumatic period.
Did you have any plans if Sanjay Dutt couldn’t have come back to filming?
I didn’t have any back up plan at all. Whether I would reshoot or not would have been Karan’s [Johar] decision because it involves lots of money. However, if I had to reshoot, I would go to Anil Kapoor, with whom I have worked with on ‘24’ and would have told him to please do the film as it is safe to say, I was in deep trouble.
What was it like filming with Sanjay Dutt when he knew he was facing incarceration?
The mood was very sober on the sets when Sanjay was around. The last scene he filmed was a very dramatic scene, at the end of it he got very emotional. We hugged him but Sanjay didn’t say anything. He went aside to do a brief photo-shoot and then didn’t return, he just drove off. Imagine what he must have undergone that day! I was asking so much from a man who was going through hell.
Ungli releases in UK cinemas on 28th November 2014.