By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Very few filmmakers decide to swim against the tide and go for unconventional subjects; Goldie Behl is one of them. His second directorial venture Drona is a fantasy adventure (a genre rarely attempted in Bollywood) complete with never before seen special effects and some mind-blowing action. Starring Abhishek Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra in lead roles, this film is among the most looked forward to films of this year. Close on the heels of the release of Drona, Bollywood Hungama caught up with Goldie and got chatting with him on his experiences filming Drona, his equation with AB Jr. and much more.
Goldie, you are back with your second film Drona which is releasing 7 years after your directorial debut Bas Itna Sa Khwaab Hai. First things first…why such a long gap?
Well…couple of reasons. One of them being I had taken failure to my heart, which I have learnt not to (laughs). I hope not to take success to my head as well. Most importantly my sister and I both thought that we first needed to get a strong hold into production which we did when we started our television software. I think we are a reasonably established name as far television goes. Then we decided to shift our focus towards films. However, the time when we made our first movie 7 years back, we felt that we were misfits in this industry (ironical as we are from a filmy family) and we felt that we didn't know the ways of working. But today the atmosphere is different, the working system is different. Today a producer and director can just do what they are supposed to be doing and not worry about distribution, finance and exhibition which is not really our area of expertise. So these were some of the reasons why it took so long for my second film. However, the most important reason is that I didn't get the right kind of subject to inspire me to go against all odds and make it.
There has been a lot of speculation about Drona. Some people say Drona is a superhero film, some say it's a supernatural film, some say it's a fantasy film, while some say it's an adventure drama. Why don't you clear the air once and for all on what the film is all about?
The movie is a coming of age drama and it is made and presented in a larger than life format. However, if you want to label it in any one particular genre you could say it's a fantasy adventure. But in the soul of it, it is a very simple story of a boy realizing his destiny and his true calling so to speak.
You had said in an interview that Abhishek and you had this fake swordfight during your childhood days and that's when you decided you would make an action film with Abhishek when you grow up. Is that where the idea of making Drona come from?
Yeah…that was part of where the idea came from (laughs). We were young kids then and we decided that when we would grow up, we would make an action-oriented film. I would direct it and Abhishek would act in it. Now we have grown up and I even have a son but we still decided to re-visit that side of ours and make a film on that.
Everybody knows that Abhishek and you are best buddies. Is that, why you cast him in the lead role in Drona?
I have been really fortunate enough to know him very closely. It's but natural for anyone to discuss an idea with their close friends first and that's what I did too when the idea of making Drona came up. I discussed the idea with Abhishek and am glad that something in the story inspired him to say yes to this film. He is truly a great actor.
Could you tell us a little more about Abhishek's character in the film? Is he a super-hero? Does he have super-natural powers?
Well…he's completely human and has got all the weaknesses of a human being (be it emotional or physical weaknesses). That's the fun part of it because you have all these defects and still you emerge as a strong hero (smiles).
Now that the film is ready for release, how do you think Abhishek has performed?
He is simply brilliant in the film. I would categorize Abhishek as a big screen actor because the larger the image you project of him the more you can see of him. He's a subtle performer and understands the nuances of big screen such as extreme close-up shots. His acting mantra of 'Less is More' has well worked with Drona.
What role does Priyanka Chopra play in the film?
Priyanka plays a royal guard, and her duty is to serve and be by the side of the King of the Vir Bhadra Dynasty (the dynasty to which Abhishek's character belongs).
The film also has Kay Kay playing the menacing villain Riz Raizada. He is touted to be the most expensive villain ever. Is it true?
Yes, he is indeed evil and menacing. He plays a wizard in the movie and is absolutely unpredictable. He has all the trappings of an evil wizard. As for him being the most expensive villain ever seen on the Hindi film scene, I don't know about the exact figures. That you will have to ask the producers (laughs). But jokes apart, we have put in a lot of effort to try and create the world in which he lives.
Drona also has Jaya Bachchan in a pivotal role? How easy or difficult was it convincing her to act in this film?
I think getting Jayaji on board was the simplest. I just told her that I'm making a movie and I would like you to be in it and she immediately said yes. I was taken aback and asked “Don't you want to hear the script and know what your role is?” She replied “No need… you are my son and it's your responsibility to take care of me.” It just put more pressure on me to live up to her expectations
The film has some never before seen special effects. Could you tell us a little bit about them?
I don't know if they are never before seen special effects; that's up to the public to decide but what I can say is that I have just been true to the script. We've had six studios that have worked on the special effects and they have done a great job
Special attention has been given to the look of the characters. What was the brief given?
I wanted the characters to be very Indian and ethnic in terms of their look and feel. However, the way they have been shot give it a very new-age and hip feel despite maintaining the ethnic look.
Where all have you shot the film?
We have shot in Prague, Rajasthan, Mumbai and Namibia.
Could you share any funny/ interesting / unforgettable moments which took place during the shoot?
We had hailstorms in Bikaner which is quite unheard of. It made me run out of my actor dates and gave me quite a scare. We also had a dust storm in Namibia while shooting on a train for 13 days. We had snow in Prague. We shot through all of that. So there have been a lot of unforgettable moments like these (laughs).
Coming to the music of the film, firstly is there scope for music in a film like Drona?
Well, there is scope for music. There are three lip-sync songs in the movie. I have grown up on mainstream Bollywood cinema with songs and dance and that's the funda I follow in the films I make too.
The music has been given by relative newcomer Dhruv Ghanekar. What made you choose him?
I had narrated Dhruv the subject and he had worked out some scratches which I really liked and on the basis of that I took him. The film's music has got a new sound. I always wanted the music to sound fresh and different. Dhruv has done a commendable job. A track like 'Oop oop cha' has caught on well with the younger audience. Even the Drona title track is different while 'Bandagi' is a classical song with a nice international feel to it
The audio release sparked off a controversy over some statements made by Jayaji…Do you think what happened was uncalled for?
Whatever happened was absolutely uncalled for and I am glad that it's over now (smiles).
Drona clashes with yet another biggie - Kidnap on Oct 2. Would you have opted for a solo week or do these things really don't matter?
To be honest it's not really my call. It's the producers and the distributors who decide on a suitable release date. My job is to finish the film on time and deliver the quality that I promised.
Is the film aimed at the metros or interiors or does it hold universal appeal?
It should find an audience everywhere.
On a parting note, give us 3 good reasons to watch Drona
It's got great performances; you will see the same actors but in a very different kind of world and environment. It's got never before seen stunts and visual effects And what is really the surprise factor, is that the film is very emotional and will make you cry. Abhishek is simply brilliant in this movie.