With each new film, director Vipul Amrutlal Shah takes on a new genre and transports audiences to a new world. For Action Replayy, which stars Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and newcomer Aditya Roy Kapoor that world goes retro to the groovy 1970s. The film is a romantic comedy, but with a twist because instead of a new prem kahani, this one follows a son as he travels back in time to change his parent’s history, so that they actually have a meet-cute and then they truly fall in love. We talked to the director and he told us about going retro, filming the gorgeous song picturisations and of course working with Akki and Aish!
The story is based on a play can you tell us why you wanted to make this into a film?
I have been making plays into films, in fact my first film Aankhen was based on my play. This was a second play that I had done and I always had wanted to make this into a film, but this required a bigger budget than a regular film. It required a certain technology, which at that time was not available. Now that we have all the technology and budgets I thought this was a great time to make this film. I think it is a fantastic subject and a great, great entertainer for Diwali. We planned it in a way so we could release the film on Diwali.
I read that you played a part in that original play, tell us about that.
Yes, yes, I acted as one of the characters in the play. I played a funny negative guy. That was out of no choice… I didn’t get the right actor for that particular part, so I decided to do it myself. But really… I don’t like to act anymore.
So, in your words what is the story about?
The basic thought of the film is that if you get a chance to relive your life what are the things you would want to correct or what are the things you would leave as is and relive them. That is the thought and it is put through the lens of a romantic comedy. I call it a romantic comedy in the world of fantasy.
Were Akshay and Aishwarya always who you thought of as the main leads?
Oh yes, yes. I have worked with Akshay on four films before this Aankhen, Waqt, Namastey London and Singh is Kingg and they all have become successful films. So, it’s obviously a natural extension. Also what is very important is that I always try to present Akshay in a different look and I am very sure that whenever I present him in any look he will be able to carry it off with ease. For this, I wanted him to look completely retro. He was the most obvious natural choice so my association with him continues.
Aish, because I wanted an absolute Indian classical beauty who has not worked on to many films with Akshay. Also someone who can carry off any style and in this case the Retro style. Aish was obviously the first and only choice that I had. I am very happy that I have got them both playing these parts.
This is really Aishwarya’s first attempt at some comedy, how did she do?
I think comedy is not something that you have to behave in a normal manner… comedy is all about following the situation. Mine is not a slapstick comedy. I have always felt that whenever I have met Ash that she is a very simple girl, very down to earth and very fun-loving. So it was very, very simple to get her into the part. I think this is going to one side of her personality, which people have not seen so far. They will be very excited to see it.
Their jodi whether fighting or playing falling in love is…?
Their chemistry is absolutely fantastic and if you watch any of the songs whether it is ‘Zor Ka Jhatka’, or ‘O’Bekhabar’ or ‘Nakhre’, which is the latest song that we have out, you will see tremendous chemistry between the two of them.
The OST is a huge hit, what was your brief to Pritam?
My brief was very simple, it was we are going to be making a film, which is a Diwali celebration film and it is going to come out on Diwali. We have to make music which is going to be absolutely foot tapping, have some definite big romantic numbers and we have to make chart buster music. That was my simple brief. While writing the script, I kept in mind how to get situations, which are going to allow me to do some really, really cool music. I am glad Pritam has delivered the promise. He has done a fantastic job.
What is your favorite song?
My favorite song is like asking a father, which is your favorite baby, but the obvious choice has been ‘Zor Ka Jhatka’ because that was the first song that came on air. But, of course there are other songs that will come out as the time progresses. We unveiled the Holi song, which according to me is a very big number. There is also a competition song, which is a melody of four songs that is exceptionally terrific.
I really love ‘O’Bekhabar’
Oh yes, yes, that is in the same league as ‘Teri Ore’ from Singh is Kingg.
You really got the chance to film some great song picturisations. Tell us about shooting those.
I think pictuirising songs is the most exciting part in a fun film. The concepts are very simple, you just need to get the right performances and the right energy into the scene. The only challenge is to make a song look awesome. I am very happy that the songs have turned out like this. Getting together those dance moves, so many dancers, so much activity and so much movement was very fascinating. It always fascinates me. It has been a pleasure to see them all come together so nicely.
Another big role is that of Bunty played by Aditya Roy Kapoor. Tell us about working with him.
I think it is high time in Indian cinema we get some new boys to come and make their mark. I find Aditya exceptionally talented. He is a fantastic actor. He has a very strong part to play in the film and I needed an Actor. I auditioned him and then we worked with him for almost two months before we started shooting. I think he has really delivered a fantastic performance. He is the boy to watch out for. Unfortunately, people in Indian cinema want to see only film family kids. It is time for people the audience to open up their hearts for a newcomer who is not from the film family. He will also be seen in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Guzaarish two weeks after Action Replayy. He has got two films back to back so he is a big promise. I hope audiences have a wider perspective to accept him.
It seems from the cars; to the styling to everything you were specific to create this world of the 70s. Tell us how you concentrated on making it look like it was 1970.
We did simple things. We saw lots of films and we did not concentrate on the actors, we concentrated on the background artists to see what was the style. Then we went and saw some footage of the cricket matches. We really looked at the way the crowd was dressed, the shoes, the belts, everything and the way their hair was styled. We picked up references from real life people who used to dress up in a certain manner in the 70s and then made them more stylish and more stylized for the actors.
How did you get and keep the cast and crew in the 70s groove?
Because we created one of the biggest sets in Indian cinema ever the moment they entered the set it looked like they were in that world. That is what transported them into that world. The background artists, the properties, everything was 70s, so it started feeling up to that point that they are living in that period. It was that experience of going into that world that was fantastic for the actors and that I think helped them to really get their best out.
What did you love about directing this film?
I think what I love about making this film was creating the world. Transporting the audience into that world is interesting, but creating that entire world and making people believe they are in the 70s was fantastic. I think that has been my biggest achievement as a director.
What do you think audiences will love the most about Action Replayy?
In our audiences Diwali is a period of celebration. There are many ways of celebrating Diwali from shopping, to going to people’s house, to buying sweets etc. and it always has one film as part of that celebration. On Diwali, of course, everyone wants to be with their family and go and see a film, which is a family entertainer. So, if they want to go with the entire family, all 3-4 generations and have a blast and enjoy themselves in an annual celebration, then I think they should check this one out. Action Replayy has terrific music, it has a very nice romantic story, it has great humor, it has very nice emotional moments and it has that very stylised look of the 70s. And of course it has top line Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. So, I think there are a lot of reasons to see the film with the entire family for Diwali!
It was wonderful to talk to Vipul Shah again; he always has such passion about his films. From the song promos that have been released and the other sneak peeks it certainly seems as if this will be a fun, colorful, romantic and in 70s slang, “like totally cool” night at the movies! Action Replayy is set to light up your Diwali, be sure and check it out!