On the sidelines of the weekend’s South Indian International Movie Awards at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), Bollywood stars Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor were in the capital promoting their eagerly anticipated project Jagga Jasoos.
The film, that began shooting in 2014, may have been a long time coming, but Kapoor is confident it has been worth the wait.
“That’s just the director [Anurag Basu]’s process,” Kapoor explains. “Even though he works in his own time, he’s constantly trying to better his art and make the best version of the film he possibly can, and when you see someone doing that so passionately you just go with the flow. He totally deserves the time that he takes.”
He admits that the lengthy process was doubly frustrating as he was also a producer on the film, which sounds like it may have been a one-off experience.
“I totally lost control as producer on the film. I realised it’s really not my cup of tea. It’s not a job I think I do well.”
Producing wasn’t the only step outside familiar territory for Kapoor, the movie is a musical in which his character combats his stammer by singing all of his words.
“It was a big challenge,” the actor adds. “Whether it’s a dramatic scene, he’s trying to solve a mystery or he’s just having a conversation, my character is constantly singing.
“It was a big challenge to sustain that over a two-hour film. It’s not that I can’t sing, but it’s maybe not good for the other person’s ears.”
“The director wanted to convey the story in the true sense of a musical,” Kaif chips in. “It goes back to Les Miserables or Beauty and the Beast, the way MGM musicals used to be. I love the way Anurag’s approached it. There’s never just a ‘cut to start singing.’ He sings because he stammers, then she replies back with a song and asks herself ‘why am I singing?’”
Kapoor’s Jagga, a youthful detective with a quirky hair-do, has attracted comparisons in the Indian press to Herge’s legendary Tintin, however the actor doesn’t think we should take the influence too seriously: “I think Anurag had certain influences as a child – Tintin, Sherlock Holmes, The Hardy Boys and many others. That’s many positive influences that came together in this film, but when we did the hairstyle we weren’t thinking of Tintin, it’s totally coincidental. We just wanted it to be kind of funny because his father gave him this hairstyle as a child, and he’s kept it through his life because he thinks if he finds his father he’ll recognise him, so there’s an emotional connect there.”
The acting duo were on a flying visit to the capital, but Kaif will be back soon to continue shooting Tiger Zinda Hai next month having already shot some scenes in Liwa alongside co-star Salman Khan in May.
“They’re putting up a huge set somewhere, I’m not exactly sure where, but we’re going to be here for I think 45 days in August,” she reveals. “A large portion of the second half of the film is going to be shot here and we’ve had great support from the Abu Dhabi Government and everybody here. We’re all really excited to have our film set here.”
Kaif is not daunted by the prospect of shooting in Abu Dhabi in the August heat. “Apparently it’s going to be very hot, but that’s OK I love shooting in the heat,” she insists. “The desert is such a lovely place to shoot. I shot Bang Bang out at Qasr Al Sarab and that was such a stunning place. Really lovely.”
Back to the present, and Kapoor is full of praise for the South Indian film industry he is in the capital helping to honour.
“The South Indian industry has really grown tenfold over the last couple of years, and in terms of the technology and the stories they’re telling,” he says. “They’re really pushing the envelope and inspiring us all in the Hindi film industry too. The market share and the money is really changing in India, and that’s a good thing. It just shows that if you tell a good story then it doesn’t matter what language it’s in, people will go and see it.”
Jagga Jasoos is slated for release on July 13.