Despite working round the clock to ensure his film releases on time, Ra.One director Anubhav Sinha took some time out of his busy schedule to speak to Urban Asian’s Meera Majithia about one of the most expensive films to come out of India.
Having made his directorial debut with ‘Tum Bin’ back in 2001 with a host of newcomers, he is now eagerly anticipating the release of his unprecedented sci-fi film, which he’s penned himself and which stars some of Bollywood’s biggest stars.
We’re getting closer and closer to the release date of Ra.One – would you say you’re pretty nervous at this point?
No strangely I’m not and I don’t know why. I think it’s because I’m to busy running through different studios because there are still some final touches that need to be done (at the time of interview on 18th Oct). We’re still making final corrections here and there so it’s very hectic.
I’m probably not getting the time to feel nervous. I don’t know how many billboards there are in town or how many spots are being shown on TV because I don’t have the time to see all of that. So maybe I’m just unaware of it all.
The film was originally scheduled for release in June. Why all the delays?
It was never scheduled to release in June. I don’t know where this came out from. We wanted to release in June at one point but around October last year we realised we would not be able to make it to June and then we thought Diwali looked like a good time for the release.
When did the Ra.One journey begin for you because you’ve also written the film as well as directed it?
I have written the story and co written the screenplay with three other people too. I conceived the story in August 2005 and that is when I first presented Shah Rukh with it, but the real work started in May 2007.
Ever since it has been a continuous process. On average it’s been four continuous years and two not so continuous years of work.
What was Shah Rukh’s reaction when you first presented him with the film?
I actually just told him the basic story, which was about three people and he said when do you want to make it.
So I said if we start working today then we’ll start filming two years from now because I knew it would take that amount of time.
I heard Karan Johar has directed a part of the film. Is this true?
I have clarified before that he did shoot one and a half days for us as there was a situation in London where we had to run two units together and we requested him to take charge of one.
It is currently one of the most expensive films to date – does that add some extra pressure for it to do well at the box office?
Of course you want it to do well and you want to make profits, so there is a certain amount of pressure. It’s only obvious when you do something large that the pressure comes as part of the package too.
Shah Rukh Khan has co-produced the film. Does it make it easier or harder when an actor is also producing the film?
Its not about the actor producing it. For me it was easier because Shah Rukh understood and appreciated his position and he believed in a film which is quite unprecedented in a lot of ways. So I needed a person who believed in it and Shah Rukh turned out to be that person. It was fabulous having him on board as a producer
What was it like working with Shah Rukh Khan the actor?
Fantastic! He has so much energy and so much desire to excel and a combination of these things normally end up giving very good results. He’s bubbling with energy, bubbling with ideas, trying to do something new all the time.
What was it like working with Arjun Rampal and Kareena Kapoor?
Fantastic again. They’re both wonderful actors. One of them is a national award-winning actor and one of them is the biggest teenage star icon in the country and they are very disciplined.
You know when Ra.One was presented to each of them they knew this was something very new and they wanted to give it their best and that’s the best feeling that you can have from your team.
This film is so big and huge – what kind of preparation did you have to do before you even began shooting for it?
Before we started shooting, most of the important and difficult sequences were boarded and pre visualised so the whole team could see everything clearly. This took quite a long time but made everybody’s life a lot simpler.
Every time we went on set the story board was up so everyone could just walk up and see which shot had just been taken and which shot was still to do.
Pre production in such terms is probably more important than the shooting itself. If you haven’t pre produced well you will never be able to achieve the shot that you have in your head.
Who would you say is your favourite on screen and off screen superhero and why?
I like HellBoy and Spiderman but my personal choice would be Batman. My favourite off-screen superhero would be Rajnikant, Shah Rukh Khan and Amitabh Bachchan – these are three superheroes.
If you could choose one superhero power what would it be?
To be able to switch off the mind. It would be a fantastic state of mind to not be thinking anything. In the world that we live in we are always thinking of something.
What are the audiences going to love about the film?
I think the best thing about the film is the emotion of the story and the story itself. They will also enjoy the entire superhero razmataz, which comes along with it incidentally. They will enjoy all the jumping and flying and kicking and falling but ultimately it’s the story they will enjoy.
How do the 2D and 3D versions compare?
They are the same film but the different experiences. But 3D is always a different experience especially in a film like this. We did not plan to make a 3D film originally but when we saw the first test we were completely blown and could not recognise the film that we had made ourselves, and so we decided to go ahead and make the 3D version.
Ra.One has been such a huge part of your life – what are your plans for the future?
The first thought in my mind is to go and sleep for three days. I haven’t had decent sleep in four years…..and then after that something will happen on its own.
Finally, do you have a message for all of your fans across the globe?
Work hard for your dreams and your dreams will come true.