Vipul Shah: Ak­shay was orig­i­nal choice, but Ar­jun fits bill com­pletely for Na­maste Eng­land

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - Sneha Ma­hade­van ■­hade­

For film­maker Vipul Am­rut­lal Shah, who has col­lab­o­rated with ac­tor Ak­shay Ku­mar on mul­ti­ple films — Aankhen (2002), Na­mastey Lon­don (2007), Ac­tion Re­playy (2010) — it was in­deed a strange feel­ing to not have him on the set of his next film, Na­maste Eng­land, which marks Vipul’s re­turn to di­rec­tion af­ter an eightyear hia­tus. But he’s glad that Ar­jun Kapoor has “sim­i­lar work ethics” as Ak­shay. In an in­ter­view, the film­maker talks about why tak­ing this break was im­por­tant, work­ing with Ar­jun and why mak­ing a se­quel is a risky propo­si­tion.

What kept you away from di­rec­tion for eight years?

Around 2009-10, the dig­i­tal world started ex­plod­ing, and the way cin­ema was treated was very dif­fer­ent from con­ven­tional film­mak­ing. I de­cided to take a break and un­der­stand this world. Also, a lot of pro­duc­tion work started that I had to fin­ish. The break got ex­tended more than I had planned. Soon, I de­cided that I needed to get back to di­rec­tion.

Is mak­ing a se­quel to a pop­u­lar film an eas­ier propo­si­tion com­pared to mak­ing a new film?

Peo­ple are ob­vi­ously aware of the first film, so reach­ing out to the au­di­ence is eas­ier. Mar­ket­ing-wise, it’s eas­ier to sell a se­quel. As for cre­ative com­par­i­son be­tween the two, the se­quel will al­ways be crit­i­cised. It is in­vari­ably crit­i­cised so there is a chal­lenge there. Every film­maker who takes up a se­quel de­cides, ‘I am go­ing to break this jinx’. But it’s dif­fi­cult to match that level.

Was it weird to not have Ak­shay Ku­mar on the sets con­sid­er­ing most of your films were with him?

I had writ­ten the film think­ing I’ll take it to Ak­shay. He loved the script but the dates didn’t work out, so he asked me to ap­proach an­other ac­tor. I went to Ar­jun and in all hon­esty, told him that I was go­ing to do this with Ak­shay. Ar­jun heard the script and came on board.

Ak­shay is such a fan­tas­tic ac­tor; I’ve had such a long re­la­tion­ship with him, so there is a cer­tain com­fort. With Ar­jun, I de­vel­oped that com­fort right from the pre-pro­duc­tion stage; he is also easy go­ing, fun and very hard work­ing.

The sec­ond trailer of Na­maste Eng­land re­leases to­day. How has the feed­back been so far?

Some felt the first trailer was too sim­ple or a new con­cept was needed. The idea was to first show their world, and later open up the twists and turns. It’s a trend in Hol­ly­wood, where they come out with four to five trail­ers in a cou­ple of months and re­veal the story. So, we also tried this con­cept.

The se­quel will al­ways be crit­i­cised. That’s the thumb rule. Every film­maker de­cides that, ‘I’m go­ing to break this jinx’. But, it’s very dif­fi­cult to match up to that level. VIPUL AM­RUT­LAL SHAH FILM­MAKER

Film­maker Vipul Shah (right) and (in­set) ac­tor Ar­jun Kapoor

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