Arjun Rampal is back in an espionage thriller after ages. The last time when he stepped into such zone was a decade ago in Rajiv Rai's Asambhav (2004), which was a slick action entertainer. Now with D-Day, he is getting into a gritty-n-realistic mode, courtesy Nikhil Advani, who is said to have gone all out in making this action drama as authentic as it gets.
D-Day (2013): Arjun played an ex army officer in Nikhil Advani's spy thriller D-Day (2013) in hot pursuit of a dreaded underworld don based in Karachi. By now, Arjun's smouldering good looks with his intense eyes make him a natural choice for such roles. Needless to say, he makes the cut admirably.
D-Day appears to be a good realistic thriller in the offering.
No one has seen a thriller like this; no one has attempted to even step into this zone. Sometimes when during filmmaking you try to 'make a thriller' and then everything seems so superficial. This is not the case with D-Day. RAW people don't just go about on a rampage. They are trained and strike when appropriate moment arises. Like for example, at the beginning of the film you would see that when Irrfan (Khan) has to send a message to India, he doesn't email or call, he puts an ad that is decoded. It may seem like a normal ad but it has a message. There is a lot of research and detailing in the film.
You are enacting the part of a character that is sent to capture India's most wanted terrorist. Since this resonates with a real life tale from the past, did you end up doing some research on your own too?
Of course the film is about getting this Most Wanted man from Karachi back home. Isn't it a dream of a billion people out here? When I read the story, I realised that each one of them who is sent on a mission is an expert in his own right. Then I started reading up stories of these people, about who they are, what are the kind of sacrifices that they made, how was that big emotional connect between them all. It was an eye opener.
You seem to have done a lot with your eyes too for the film. Since you are known for your inherent intensity, is that the core of your characterisation as well in the film?
See, Rudra Pratap Singh is a very intense man. He is a cold blooded assassin. He likes to work on his own; he does not like to work with teams. He feels responsible for his own actions. He doesn't want to depend on anyone else. Yes, there is a conflict between him and Wali Khan (played by Irrfan Khan). Then there is wonderful growth to his character.
Yes, Wali sounds like an interesting character as well.
That's true. His life is complicated too since he is living in Pakistan and is even married there. He too is tracking this terrorist and is sending information over to India. In fact he camouflages his life in such a way that even his son and wife don't know that he is a RAW agent. Now since Wali has a family, it is all the more reason for Rudra to feel that he is better off alone. He doesn't want people to be weakness. Then there is Huma Qureshi's character who is married too. She also has to sacrifice a lot for the sake of a mission. She does things which you don't expect a married person to do!
You are indulging in a lot of action though, right?
Yes and the beauty of this action is that it is all very real. You are not suddenly flying ten feet. Our action director Tom Struthers was sure that every sequence had a lot of heart to it. He wanted to show that even when you break someone's finger, there can be enough pain imparted; you don't have to necessarily snap anyone's head off. He has shown things like how in the middle of a fight, a bullet may get stuck in a chamber and you are stuck. He has shown what really happens when there is a blast. We had a training of two months in action before we canned these scenes.
How was your interaction with Tom Struthers?
You know what, when Nikhil (Advani) told me that there is this top Hollywood guy who is being roped in for the film, I first thought that he was lying. Here was this guy who has worked with Christopher Nolan and has films like Inception, The Dark Knight, Blood Diamond and more to his credit. The fact that he was working on D-Day was a testimonial to him truly found something interesting in the script. It was incredible that Nikhil brought him down. He has brought in a lot of freshness and newness in the film. He has ensured that we have a proper thriller to showcase.
You seem to be showcasing some good action thrillers though. Close to a decade back you had worked in Asambhav which had introduced some new action in Bollywood back then. It too was an espionage affair.
Yes, I loved the action there. However, my characterisation in D-Day is not similar to that in Asambhav at all. Rudra of D-Day is different from Aditya of Asambhav. In Asambhav I was playing this guy from the Army who was sent in there to rescue the Indian President. Here in D-Day I am this RAW agent who is on a mission to bring back India's Most Wanted man. You can't compare these two films; they are poles apart.