By Subhash K Jha
BOLLYWOOD: Bet you didn’t know this. But Emraan Hashmi has a role in Bullett Raja. Though not in the way you think.
Explains Tigmanshu, “We actually saw this guy named Sachin during our shooting. He looked like an exact replica of Emraan Hashmi, so similar they could be twins. So we wrote in a scene where Saif, Jimmy and Sonakshi barge into a film shooting, starring ‘Emraan Hashmi’ when they visit Mumbai.”
Now into heavy post-production, Bullett Raja is not your typical Rowdy Rathod-meets-Dabangg kind of dusty crusty action-drama set in a small North Indian crime-infested town with guns adorning every scene.
Confesses Tigmanshu sheepishly, “The films that you mention have a very South Indian kind of incredible stunts. I don’t like them. My cinema always exists in a real space. In Bullett Raja the fights may look designed in the Rowdy Rathod space. But nothing in my film is unreal, or outlandish. My hero Saif Ali Khan does fight. But it isn’t done as a gratuitous Rajnkanth-meets-Salman kind homages to the super-hero who can pound 25 goons into the dust with one mukka.”
And yet we see Tigmanshu’s latest film indulging in a lot of filmy singing. The director protests, “I admit I’ve used a lot of singing and dancing in the narrative of the kind you haven’t seen in any of films. But the songs don’t just come on for no rhyme or reason. Bullett Raja is not just about having a good time. There are many issues that the film tackles. The exploitation of youth power for politics is a prevalent theme in my cinema. In Bullett Raja too it is an important plot motivation.”
Tigmanshu shocks me by proclaiming that his outcast-hero idolizes Bhagat Singh. “Saif may look like he’s shooting bullets fashionably and flamboyantly. But he is a fierce ideologue in Bullett Raja. My film brings back the idealistic hero that Dharmendra and Amitab Bachchan played in the 1970s. Then certain political debacles such as the job-reservation issue and the demolition of the Babri Masjid polluted the essential heroism of our natonal heroes. Now we’ve come to a stage in our politics where corruption is so rampant that we’re cynical about idealism. Saif is an unapologetic idealistic in Bullett Raja.”
Bullett Raja may look like the recent action dramas set in North Indian towns. But the director begs to defer. “The mahaul, the environment is organic to the plot. There is a lot of physical and emotional detailing in the direction.I don’t like films about senseless violence. At the same time I enjoy films about full-on hero-giri, dosti, sacrifice,qurbani, desh-bhakti , etc. Bullett Raja has all of that. My hero Saif Ali Khan and his friendship with Jimmy Shergil are inspired by Dharmendra and Amitabh Bachchan in Sholay. I am very excited because I’ve never attempted this kind of cinema before.”
At the moment Tigmanshu is not even thinking about his next film. “So I don’t know where reports of my having cast a new girl in Milan Talkies are coming from. I am thinking of only Bullett Raja right now.”