Mumbai, March 13 -- During a visit to the HT Cafe office, the cast of NH10 - Anushka Sharma (AS; also the co-producer), Neil Bhoopalam (NB) and Darshan Kumaar (DK) - along with director Navdeep Singh (NS), discussed their film, censorship, and more.
Anushka, you had the additional responsibility of producing this film. Was it tough?
AS: I felt it would be easy, but it wasn't. I'm nervous, but it's been a fulfilling journey.
Navdeep, did you have doubts when Anushka said she will produce and act in the film, too? It's a gritty film that goes against her image.
NS: Not at all. I never look at actors in a stereotypical way. In fact, it's more exciting to break the mould for an actor, and sort of work against their grain.
AS: And that's what actors also want, because we know what we are capable of. A lot of times, people just cast you on the basis of what you have already done. It was so refreshing to see Varun Dhawan in Badlapur.
How did you guys deal with the censor board cuts?
NB: It's our job to put up a film being unbiased. I find it ridiculous that people are coming up to dictate what we can and cannot say. Working extra time on those parameters not to upset anyone adds unnecessary pressure.
With censors cutting so many scenes in this film, do you think you'll remain as fearless as a producer going ahead?
AS: I never thought that I should have made an easier film. Ultimately, you do stuff that you believe in. You can't be fickle. Even in the future, if we make something sensible like this, I can fight to take it through.
You said in an interview - "how can one person decide what you want to do creatively?"
AS: What I wanted to say is that a few people can't decide what everyone should be watching. It should be left to one's personal choice. You are living in a democracy... as a film, if you are showing violence against women, but saying that that is wrong, shouldn't that be allowed and encouraged?
NB: It's like the anti-smoking campaign where they show people smoking and then they show what happens to the lungs. Then there's a message as opposed to just showing the message.
NS: As creative people, you want to make something that is provocative, too, to start a debate and question things; everything doesn't have to be comfortable. It's weird that censorship is trying to put an end to that by pretending everything is hunky dory.
Navdeep, you had the story for a while. How was it starting the film after a long wait?
NS: Anurag Kashyap and team were on for a while, but Anushka enabled the film. It's really nice to see something we had on paper for so long actually come to life. It's exciting, but the process of filming was also tough.
Darshan, after Mary Kom you're playing a character that is wildly different.
DK: It was a very nice journey, especially with such a superb director and co-actors. And we had a very good time.
Anushka, your last film was a huge success. How are you coping with the expectations that people have from this film?
AS: Quite honestly, I have never based my career on the basis of expectations that people have of me because that's really taxing. I have always done things that excite me.
Anushka, in the past, you have worked with big stars like Aamir, Shah Rukh, Shahid Kapoor etc. But since you don't have such names in this film, do you think the responsibility to carry the film is more on your shoulders?
AS: I always thought I was very important in those films as well. My co-stars are shouldering the responsibilities in NH10 the way I was doing in those (big star) films.
The film is releasing during the Cricket World Cup, do you think it's a risk?
AS: Since the World Cup is happening in Australia, we are lucky because the matches get over in the afternoon and that's when the shows kind of start filling up. And Darshan's analogy is superb - if India wins, people will be like, 'Let's have fun and go watch a film', and if India loses, they will be like, 'Let's watch the film and be happy.'
Anushka, what's your take on BCCI banning wives/girlfriends from the World Cup 2015?
AS: You can't blame or give credit to anyone for anyone's performance in any field - not just cricket. And it's kind of pointless... everyone should be given credit for what they do or are capable of doing. Everyone is responsible for their shortcomings and achievements. That's the way you should look at it. Rest you can refer to BCCI who understands probably in a different way why they have decided to do something like that.