“The Striker cast met expectations and even went beyond” – Chandan Arora

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He belongs to a new breed of makers for whom cinema is not just merely film making, but instead a process in which you get absolutely involved in the subject matter. Making a film for them is more than just organising a film and executing it, but instead believing 110% in what they’re bringing to life on screen. Perhaps that is why although he’s only 2 films old, Chandan Arora has somewhat a name for himself already amongst the audiences and more importantly his peers. This February, after a lot of struggle and trouble, the highly talented director is all set to release his third directorial venture which he has also produced. The film stars Siddharth (Rang De Basanti), Aditya Pancholi (Yes Boss), Ankur Vikal (Slumdog Millionaire), Nicolette Bird (Rock On!!) and Southern actress Padmapriya. Promos have made everyone more and more intrigued about this project, so Chandan put all the queries finally at rest with this exclusive chat in which he speaks everything Striker!

Each film of yours has been different to one another, so what was it about Surya’s biopic that attracted you?

There are a few elements about this film that attracted me:
– The whole 80’s era & to do an ode to all the films we watched while growing up.
– The Ghetto life which hasn’t been realistically depicted much. It’s a peek into the underbelly of Bombay in the 80’s & its true grunge.
– The amount of layers & extent of the journey of an individual became very challenging. Both my previous films weren’t that complex in that sense.
– Exploring a game like carrom on celluloid, which on the one hand is not really a sport that is discussed or watched, but on the other is probably the most common sport among the masses. I think almost everyone in our country must have tried playing carrom at least once.
– The setting of the film is a Mumbai ghetto called Malwani. To do true justice to a film of this nature meant shooting in real locations. & shooting in Malwani was a really exciting prospect for me.

All your films have been some how about the struggle of the common man, does this subject hold special interest for you?

More than the “common man”, it’s about the fact that I find reality so dramatic. There are so many real stories and characters that are so cinematic that it makes for interesting material.

Siddharth’s role is very different to what he has done in the past down South and to what he did in RDB, what made you so sure he’d be able to pull this off?

Sid came into this project very early on. We were working on another film and during research for that film, this story idea came up. He loved the idea and we both felt this was a film we were most excited to make at the time. From there on the development of the script happened keeping Sid in mind.

You’re introducing 2 newcomer heroines in one film, was this challenging?

Since the film captures the protagonist’s journey from the age of 10 to his early 30’s, the female protagonists are important but don’t have much screen time. So established or popular screen faces were out of the question. I was, however, extremely lucky to get 2 fantastic actresses. Nicollete has just started but Padmapriya is one of the sort after actors in Malyalam and Tamil film markets.

Since it’s clearly a power performance packed film from what we see in trailers, did all the performances by the cast meet your expectation?

They met expectations and even went beyond. They were fuel for us writers to improve on the material we were giving them. From the hero Siddharth, who was ready to take on any challenge to play Surya correctly, to even those facing the camera for the first time. They delivered all that was required & more.

Now we’ve read the story a billion times in various synopsis. If you had to describe the storyline in your own words, what would you say?

Apart from what the synopsis says, for me Striker is a story of a boy’s journey, a story of Bombay city, a story of carrom, friendship, & a slice of life in the ghettos in the 1980’s.

The film is based in another era, which must have required attention for each and every detail. How was the experience of shooting a film in a specific era?

It was very difficult. We couldn’t shoot with all the freedom needed. The skyline has changed, the cars are different, there are people carrying cellphones everywhere. But we’ve managed, I guess.

The music is creating waves in the media and amongst the audiences even before coming out. Tell us a bit bout why you chose so many music directors?

Most of the tracks in the film are recorded only after we had filmed & edited the scenes. We wanted to use the best possible tools needed to accentuate and convey the emotions of the film, and so thought bringing different music directors would add the different flavours needed for the various moods the film goes through. We made a wish list of all the music directors, singers and lyricists we would like to work with, and the end result is this album.

What is your favorite song and who is the composer of the track?

‘Yun Hua’ written by Gulzar, composed and vocals by Vishal Bhardwaj.

Is song and dance an integral part of the film or is it more to aid the flow of the story?

The songs are used more as background score and to gently nudge the viewer into feeling the emotional progression of the story.

You’re also the producer of the film, how was it doing both jobs?

The idea of turning producer was more to do with convenience. Once we decided to make this film, we didn’t want to wait. Going through the process of finding someone to convince and back us financially seemed too much of a long drawn out process. So we started with some private funding and found under production buyers in Studio 18.

We’ve heard several reasons and rumors about the delay of the film. What was in fact the real reason for the delay?

There was not one reason but several – starting from recession to terrorism to the distributors’ strike to name some. But better late than never!

Last but not the least, why should our readers be rushing of to a theater near them to watch Striker on 5th February 2010!

I guess for all the reasons I found exciting to make Striker. Sid, who even though he claims is his best performance to date, I believe is a tremendous talent and is someone to watch out for, Aditya Pancholi in a menacing comeback, and finally to go through Surya’s journey along with him in a scenario where he has to fight for everything most take for granted.

Well we don’t know about all of you guys but that is certainly all the convincing we needed! Here’s wishing the team of Striker a rocking time at the box office. Be sure to catch the film in a cinema near you this Friday, February 5th!

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