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