By Nikhil Ramsubramaniam, Bollywood Hungama News Network
Take a close look at the following films- Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi, Gangster, Life…In A Metro, Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Woh Lamhe and Khoya Khoya Chand and you will notice that these films starred an actor who is known for delivering some really intense performances. Yes…ladies and gentleman, we are talking about the incredibly talented and good-looking Shiney Ahuja. Shiney has been one actor who has received unanimous praise for his work in almost all his films. The year 2008 may already be in its eighth month but Shiney hasn't had a single release this year. His last release was the critically acclaimed Khoya Khoya Chand (Dec 07). Now, he is all excited as he gets to open his account this year and that too with a hi-octane action film like Hijack. In an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama, Shiney talks about the daredevil stunts which he has done in Hijack, his future line up of films and also why he doesn't believe in signing multi-film deals just for the heck of it. You don't want to miss reading this one!!!
With Hijack, you open your account in the year 2008…how does it feel?
It feels good because for the last six months, I have been waiting to open this account (laughs). Finally the wait is over and Hijack is releasing.
From the looks of it, Hijack seems like an action packed thriller…Could you tell us a little bit about the film?
Hijack is an action film but it's also a film about relationships that exist and relationships that get formed in the time period during which this incident happens. It talks about how different bonds of love, friendship and enmity rule your emotions and make you do things which you would normally not do.
So what is your character in the film?
I play a maintenance chief of a small airport in Chandigarh. There is something that has happened in his past for which he doesn't know whom to blame, himself or circumstances. It is this past incident because of which he has become another person. But even when people do change, their core remains the same and in his core, he is a fighter. He is a person who doesn't give up. That is somehow his biggest asset. It is this trait which helps him when he is confronted with a situation. The film is about a Hijack and it's his daughter who is on the plane. What he does to get his daughter out is the basic premise of the film and how his instincts play during the whole incident is something you need to watch.
Audiences usually associate you with more performance based and intense characters but here you also get to do some heavy duty action. Do you think the audiences would be excited to see this new avatar of Shiney?
Well…I hope so (smiles). To be frank, I am not looking at any conscious image makeover because most of my roles besides being intense have also been really challenging. I am quite fortunate that very early in my career I have got to play characters with so many shades. My directors and writers have trusted me with such roles. As for Hijack, the script came my way and I really liked it and happened to do it.
Hijack has some heavy duty action sequences. Could you tell us about some of the stunts and how was the experience shooting them. Also did you take any special training for the stunts?
I had to hang from a chopper for about 7 days. I am not sure what kind of training you can take for that except make sure that you exercise and have strong arms and shoulders (laughs). Fortunately, with God's grace everything went well.
Hijack has 2 leading ladies, Esha Deol and newcomer Kaveri Jha. So whom are you paired opposite?
I am paired opposite Kaveri Jha, a new girl. Esha plays a pivotal role in the film when the Hijack takes place. However, I would say there is chemistry between everyone in the film. There is a beautiful chemistry between me and my daughter, there is a chemistry between me and the hijackers which is a cat and mouse kind of game happening. There is also chemistry between Esha and me, Kaveri and me and even me and the passengers. So in that sense there is a lot of chemistry in the film (laughs).
How has it been working with Esha?
Truly Wonderful. She is an actress who has a lot of potential. After what I know of the film industry based on my years spent here, I truly believe that today how successful you are is based on the choice of films you make and not just how well you act. So I would say that this is a good choice that Esha has made and hope she continues doing such good work in the future too.
Hijack is director Kunal Shivdasani's debut film. How has he done for his first film?
I think he has done extremely well. Kunal is a renowned ad film maker having shot numerous ads. Even before we started shooting for this film I knew that this film would be par excellence compared to any other action film. But when I started shooting I was pleasantly surprised with Kunal's instincts for blocking scenes, motivating actors. He's found his own way of communicating with everybody which is very close to his personality. I think the biggest quality of any director is to make his actors feel comfortable and that's one quality that he really has.
Where all has the film been shot? Were there any interesting / funny moments during the shoot?
The film has been shot mostly in Mumbai. We built a set to shoot the interiors of the plane. Some exterior shots of the plane have been taken in Ras- Al-Khema which is about 150 kms from Dubai and some part of the film is also shot in Mauritius. We shot in some really grueling conditions and even in extreme temperatures. As for the interesting moments, there is a scene where I am hanging from a chopper and I have to tell the guy driving the chopper 'peeche lo peecho lo' as the chopper is chasing the plane which is hijacked. After a while I was really tired of hanging and started saying 'Neeche lo neeche lo' and the crew didn't know what I was up to as the camera was still rolling. That was quite funny.
Have you done most of the stunts in the film yourself?
Yes, I have done all the stunts in the film myself
Coming to the music of the film, firstly is there scope for music in such a hi-octane thriller
Absolutely. That's the quality of the director and the music director (Justin-Uday). They have a great team work as they have worked in quite a few ads together. Because of that without interfering with any part of the screenplay and narrative, they have been able to incorporate some really fabulous numbers. We have a club number also in the film which happens before the hijack incident takes place. We have a romantic song ('Aksar') that is blended beautifully. It's not that we recorded a song and then decided where to put it. We had a story in mind and according to the story we decided that we needed a song. There was a beautiful relationship which needed to be established and we though that a song would be the best way. Even in Gangster, for that matter, I don't think any of the songs like 'Bheegi Bheegi' or 'Ya Ali' interfere with the narrative.
The music has been given by newcomers Justin- Uday. How do you think the music has evolved and which is your favorite track?
They have done fantastically well. Close to impossible to believe that this is their first film. My favorite song is 'Aksar'.
'Aksar' reminds of your smash hit…' Kya Mujhe Pyar Hai' from Gangster….The two songs sound quite similar. Your comments on the same
Aksar is a beautiful number. In fact there is a line which goes 'Kya Yehi Hai Pyaar' which sounds similar to 'Kya Mujhe Pyar Hai'. So in a way, yeah it does sound a little similar but people already like the number and that's what matters.
With so much bloodshed, bomb-blasts and terrorism already happening around us over the last few days, do you think audiences would want to watch a film that again deals with terrorism and hijack.
Well…I think audiences should go and watch a film like Hijack to understand that if they were caught in such a situation, what they would have done. Besides Hijack is not just a film about terrorism. It's a film about love and relationships. So the audiences should go and watch the film more for that reason than anything else.
Hollywood has been witness to many films which deal with hijack such as Air Force One, Con Air, Flight Plan, Die Hard etc…Out here we have seen few films like Zameen and Yeh Dil Aashiqana that looks at a hijack scenario. Does this film bear any similarity to any of these films?
No. This film doesn't bear any similarity to any of these films
Are you a major action film lover and which is your favorite action flick?
My all time favorite action flick is True Lies.
When you say Hijack, the first thing that comes to your mind is the 9 /11 attack on the twin towers or even the Indian plane which was hijacked and taken to Afghanistan. Does the film show any instances which bear similarity to what happened during any of these incidents?
Nothing at all
Coming to your other projects, what's next after Hijack?
There is Har Pall with Preity Zinta directed by Jahnu Barua. It's a romantic film with some light moments. It should be out sometime in October or November.
Is it true that you are also planning a biker film?
Yes that's true but it's too early to talk about it…things have to still fall in place. Right now I am too occupied with the promotions of Hijack.
Shiney you had a good last year (Bhool Bhulaiya , Metro and critical acclaim in Khoya Khoya Chand ) yet we see so less of you and never hear you signing multi-film deals like some of your colleagues. Why so?
I am a sucker for scripts. If I get 3 fantastic scripts I'll sign them. I don't want to commit myself to any sort of project where the scripts are not in place. For me scripts are most important factor. Besides, I don't think Aamir or Shah Rukh or Salman have signed any 3 film deal. So there are lots of people who have not signed such deals. In fact the biggest stars in the country have not signed any such deal and I am sure they have their reasons for doing so.
You have done exceptionally well in serious films, gangster flicks, action flicks, political drama and even a love story. With comedy being the flavor of the season, when do we Shiney making the audiences laugh?
Very soon, in my next film Har Pall.
With so many new talented directors emerging, which one of them has managed to catch your fancy in recent times? Any of them you would like to work with in the near future?
Amongst the young directors who have caught my fancy, is Imtiaz Ali…he is a friend of mine as well…then there is Sriram Raghavan who made Johnny Gaddaar.
Lastly give us 3 good reasons to watch Hijack which opens on Aug 29.
If you want to watch a hi-octane action flick, then Hijack is the film to watch If you are looking for a film which has very simple and basic emotions (like a love between a father and daughter) and see how far a man would go for the sake of his daughter, Hijack is the film to watch. Finally, if you want to watch a fabulous song on screen 'Aksar'…you should watch Hijack