Welcome to London
How has the schedule and trip been so far?
The trip has been really hectic. I have been in and out of shooting two movies. I also have been shooting for my own movie (besides Tezz), which is Love, Breakup Zindagi. We shot a portion of this film (Tezz) in November last year in Birmingham and now we have come back to finish the rest. It has been hectic, but I can’t complain as London is a nice part of the world. It is a bit distracting but nice.
What is Tezz about? It is said to be a remake of Hollywood blockbuster Speed.
There is this terrible rumour going around which is completely untrue. It has got nothing to do with Speed, nothing at all. It is basically a high paced action drama film. It deals with the antagonist and protagonist.
You are playing the good guy, I believe?
You know, I usually play the good guy. You would believe that, if I was playing the bad guy (laughs).
But I don’t know as in today’s world, what is good and what is bad as far as you choose a character in it’s totally. You see the redemption and the justification of every character. I think I will let you be the judges when you go and see the film, of whether I am good or bad.
I sense some similarities with your Bollywood film Speed in terms of genre.
Not at all, they are very different films. Priyadarshan, the director, is doing an action drama after really long time. For him to come back into this genre and making the high-octane film that he is making was very attractive to me in the first place. And of course, I love doing action films.
Priyadarshan is really stepping out of his shoes and has got this new baby energy towards doing this kick-ass action film. I think it was well worth it, as he is quite a challenging director to work with because he wants you to come up with the goods every day. In that sense, it has been quite nice.
Tezz has a big cast. Who do you bond with the most on the sets?
I think, with Ajay Devgn. Ajay and me go back a long way. We were neighbours when we were kids. He is a bit older than me, but we know each other since before we were actors. Ajay is pretty much the person I would like to hang around with.
Your recent films Blue and Yuvraaj had big casts, just like Tezz. Is that a conscious decision to act in films with an ensemble cast?
I don’t know. I don’t know whether they have been good decisions or bad decisions. I just had this attitude of working in films that were larger than life. I wanted to work with very good directors in that sense, because I thought it would be great to have an experience of the sum of all the experiences they had. It would be great to be directed by stalwarts like them. I guess, that was the conscious decision that I made. However, my fans aren’t too happy about that. They constantly coax me into doing a romantic comedy or coming in solo movies, which I am now making. It has been quite a merry-go-round, but I don’t know if it was conscious or unconscious really.
It was reported that you and Ajay met with an accident while shooting in Birmingham for Tezz last year. What happened?
It wasn’t an accident actually. We were shooting in the canal and of course, it was freezing cold. I was sitting on this Jet Ski and there was this stunt guy, who I think misjudged an upcoming boat, which was not locked off. I don’t know whether he panicked or whether he thought that I was behind him and he had to do something to divert himself from an accident. Ultimately, we just all fell into that water. It was not only dirty and filthy, it was freezing cold. I am a really good swimmer, but I remember coming out and feeling like seventeen thousand daggers were going into my heart. I couldn’t move (laughs). Ajay was standing on the side, laughing at me and joking that it serves me right for doing my own stunts (laughs).
Are these action scenes in Tezz a bit of challenge for you?
There is a lot of satisfaction in doing action sequences yourself especially if you can really nail it.
Of course, while shooting in London there are so many hazards and so many insurance things and everybody wants to be your mother and doctor (laughs). They just don’t allow you to do this stuff that you want to do. And considering that the film is at stake, if anything happens to you, the entire film suffers. There were certain stunts that I wanted to do and I was not allowed to do them.
I like doing my own stunts and I have been doing so for a very long time and it gives me a high, you know (smiling).
You just turned producer with Born Free Entertainment. How did that come about?
Quite honestly, every time I wanted to do a romantic comedy, something or the other happened and it didn’t take off. I was very stubborn about the kind of romantic comedy I wanted to do and I was not willing to do a slap-stick romantic comedy or something that has been done before. I wanted to do something that is very new age, something that was a slice of life, something that takes entertainment and filmmaking sensibilities and combines them together and comes out with something new and interesting. One day, I was sitting with Dia (Mirza) and she thought why don’t we start something as every time we want to do something, there is always such a big difference between what we think we are getting into and what it ultimately turns out to be. We are bound to make a few mistakes but you never know if you don’t venture out there. It’s like nothing ventured, nothing gained.
That’s how Love, Breakup, Zindagi came up. Dia came up with the germ of the idea, Sahil started writing it and I was involved in the editing. We have a lovely partner in Sahara Motion pictures and they have been extremely supportive.
As a producer, what is filmmaking for you about?
Any film you make has to have universal appeal and be entertaining. It has to have social relevance and most importantly it has to be economically feasible. Film making is really not a business. It’s so much to do with passion. It is also a business considering that you have to break even and make some money on top to be considered having a blockbuster film and get people’s attention too.
But I think, the fun element about being associated with something that you will be remembered for and something that is going to immortalise you, was more for the taking for us.
I have got a few questions from your Twitter fans.
Naina: When will Sharafat Gayi Tel Lene come in cinemas?
That’s a really good question actually. We have almost done the film and we have got five to ten days left. It is a really interesting film and it’s just about honest guy in a dishonest world. He has taken for this roller-coaster ride which he really does not want to be on. The producers of this film they tend to be the kind of people who look at market forces before they release a film. They have very different sensibilities about what this film should be and how it should be marketed. I don’t know, if I am the best person to answer this question.
Asim: Which of your own movies would you remake if you could?
I think Shabd was a movie very ahead of its time. This is a film; I think we could do again with this whole beautiful idea behind it. There is another one, Mission Istanbul. If we had an opportunity to revisit that and restructure it, it could have been really big. I think that is something, Apoorva (Lakhia, the director) and me ponder on, a lot. I don’t know if the editing was handled very well.
Zuha: Out of all the characters you’ve played, which one resembles you most in real life?
That is pretty difficult because I am constantly evolving as a person. I guess, during Main Hoon Na, that character represented me best at that time. If you see Love, Breakup, Zindagi ,which is coming up now, it would best resemble me right now. You are never ever really the same person.
So finally, when are you planning to join Twitter?
(Laughs) You know, I am a very private person actually. I don’t subscribe to the idea that I should have a view on somebody else’s thought or I should be telling everybody that I am out of bed and looking at the sunshine and I am really pondering over what I am going to do next in my shot to come. I find that very self-indulgent and very invasive. But my sister, Farah Ali Khan makes up for the fact that I am not on Twitter.
I was in Birmingham and this girl was shouting ‘Zayed, Zayed…’ and I was like ‘yeah’. She asked me “Are you Farah Khan’s brother?” Something just hit me and I was like ‘yaah’.
She was this blonde girl with blue eyes and I could not make the connection really. I was thinking that she wanted an autograph. But she said, “Tell her, I am a big fan” that was very sweet and I did tell her (laughs). My sister is still coaxing me to join Twitter and who knows, I might surprise everybody.
Tezz, directed by Priyadarshan stars Ajay Devgn, Zayed Khan, Anil Kapoor, Boman Irani, Sameera Reddy, Kangana Ranaut and is produced by Ratan Jain.