Interview: Zoa Morani talks about her new film ‘Bhaag Johnny’
Zoa Morani is known to the industry for her impactful performance in Always Kabhi Kabhi produced by Shah Rukh Khan’s Red Chillies Entertainment, a launch that every actress would have dreamt to be a part of.
She continued with her passion for theatre and did two highly acclaimed plays. First was Panchhatantra adapted and penned by renowned lyricist and poet Gulzar followed by Taj Mahal Ka Udghatan which is currently running successfully in different parts of India. Zoa has also made her presence felt in the world of commercials where she has been seen sharing screen space with Virat Kohli for a Cellkon Ad and Farhan Akhtar for Mc. Dowell which was shot right after the release of her film in 2012. Not to miss, she has also been associated with ace designers like Masaba Gupta and Pallavi Mohan as their show stoppers for different fashion weeks.
Presently, Zoa is seen in the newly released Bhaag Johnny where she will be romancing Kunal Khemu. The industry is eager to see this fresh on-screen couple and the wonders they will do in cinemas. Bhaag Johnny is produced by T-Series is set to release on 25th September and directed by Shivam Nair.
Bhaag Johnny is a story about a man’s journey where he gets two choices that will lead to their respective destinies.
Synopsis: Janardhan Arora (Johnny) (Kunal Khemu) is a young ordinary Indian man who works as an accountant in Bangkok. Although he earns a successful living, he is not content and wants more from life. Johnny has a strong desire to live his life to the fullest. So he gets involved in a security fraud not realizing the dangers that he will encounter. Johnny now is caught in a catch-22 situation where he must make a decision which will change his life forever. He has to either kill Tanya (Zoa Morani) or save her. But life gives him an opportunity to lead two lives for 72 hours. It is in this critical situation, black and white shades of Johnny breaks out. He starts living two parallel lives. In one life, Johnny kills Tanya for his own survival. In the other he protects Tanya despite knowing the risks. Both the journeys are fraught with difficulties. The course of events leads to their individual destination and it determines what he becomes. He realizes that destiny is a result of the choices we make.
You made your Bollywood debut with Always Kabhi Kabhi a few years ago. What have you been upto in the meantime?
I was really young when my debut film released and had a lot to learn about acting. So I chose to take time, prepare myself better and invest in diverse roles. Also I got involved in theater which has been a really overwhelming experience. I started working in theatre with Salim Arif Sir and did plays penned by Gulzar Saab. Then I did a comedy play titled Tajmahal Ka Udghatan for which we did shows across India. The medium has taught me so much and improved me as an artist.
Bhaag Johnny is a thriller film. Why did you decide to be a part of this film?
Because of the story and my character. When I and my mother went for the narration to Vikram Bhatt, we were bowled over by the script and the way it was laid out. We were at the edge of our seats throughout the session so I came on board in an instant after that. Also the role of Taniya, a simple and independent girl who has to believe a complete stranger with her life appealed to me.
What factors do you look at when you want to be a part of a film?
The foremost concern is always the script. The reason my second film is releasing years after my debut is also because I didn’t want to pick on projects randomly. I wanted to invest time and thought in selecting stories that would matter to me. Also the role should be of integral importance to the plot. I don’t wish to be a part of narratives where an actor is just present in the frame and do not make any difference.
Bhaag Johnny also stars Kunal Khemu. How was it like working with him?
Kunal has been really fun and interesting to work with. He has a remarkable wit which use to keep us on our toes always. He comes with years of experience and the best thing about him lies in his ability to switch moods. One moment he is cracking jokes and laughing at something and the next moment, when the camera is on, he is fully into his character. That’s a quality I would like to master as well.
The music of the film has generated a good hype. What do you like about the soundtrack?
I believe the soundtrack of Bhaag Johnny is a proper mix of soulful renditions and peppy dance numbers which works with audiences today. My favourite track from the film is Kinna Sona, a slow romantic number featured on me and Kunal.
As the film is produced by T-Series who are pioneers in music, what is your opinion on how important good marketing of music is for the success of a film?
I may not be the best person to comment on this business aspect of filmmaking but as a listener and someone who has grown up on Hindi film songs, I feel music has been and will always be a significant part of Bollywood. A Hindi movie is incomplete without songs. And now with newer lot of talented singers coming in and finer techniques being used, music would be of prime importance.
The film has a catch-22 situation which has already been revealed in the trailer. Don’t you think that should have been a surprise element for audiences who will see the film in cinemas?
I don’t think it has been revealed in the trailer. What we have shown there is the basic premise on which the film has been built and what it intends to offer. That is the minimum you have to include in a trailer to attract people to the theatres. Bhaag Johnny is an out and out thriller and to know what happens at the end, you have to watch the film.
A lot of fresh faces have been launched in Bollywood over the last few years. While many make it big, many also don’t and the industry really survives on actors who have been in the industry for many years. What’s your take on why Hindi film audiences are not as accepting to newcomers compared to the film industry in the west?
I don’t think that’s the correct thing to say. Bollywood has always been welcoming of every talent and so has been the audience. A lot of newcomers who made their debut few years back are accorded as superstars today. That’s because of a loyal audience base and their successful films. The fact is everyone has to prove their mettle at the box office to be welcomed by the masses. Some can do that, some can’t. The senior actors you are talking about have managed to do this for decades and that’s why fans have undying love for them.
What’s next for you after Bhaag Johnny?
Right after the release, we are taking our play Tajmahal Ka Udghatan to Dubai which I am highly excited about. As of now, I am giving a couple of auditions but haven’t signed anything new. The moment I do, I will be happy to let you know.