Their might be an unusual combination, but producer Vipul Shah and director AR Murugadoss’s collaboration on the action-drama, Holiday – A Soldier Is Never Off Duty is an anticipated one. Murugadoss, who has directed a Bollywood film after six years, says he has tweaked his south original, Thuppakki (2012), to make Holiday a sharper remake. Here, they both tell us about their experience of working together, and why Akshay Kumar was always their first choice for the lead role.
Read: Enough of so-called south-style action, Akshay Kumar goes realistic for Holiday
You're returning to directing a Bollywood film after six years (he last directed Ghajini; 2008). Does that add to the pressure?
Murugadoss: I knew there would be expectations. I didn’t feel the pressure while making the film, but I’m feeling some of it now (laughs). I didn’t think about the time gap because I was working on the script of Holiday, and then I also shot Thuppakki with the same script, so I was busy. I won’t take so much time for my next film.
Vipul, is casting Akshay in your films a given?
Vipul: No. I enjoy working with him, but as a producer, I go by the director’s vision and give him what he wants. ARM wanted him, so it was a sone pe suhaaga (an added bonus) situation for me.
How was it working with Akshay?
AR Murugadoss (ARM): It was wonderful. He’s good at action and great at romance. He’s such a big superstar. I was a bit nervous initially, but he put me at ease and we soon became good friends.
How was ARM as a director?
Vipul Shah (VS): He’s extremely organised, so he gave me a list of requirements for the shoot before the first day. Despite being a hot-shot director, he never gave me any trouble. The film was a difficult one to shoot, because the streets of Mumbai were our locations, and there were many things to manage. Plus, when I saw Thuppakki, I felt the rhythm and soul of the film, and I knew no one could have done a better job.
Have you made any changes in the Hindi version of the film?
ARM: You can’t compare the two films, but we did change some portions in the Hindi version, including a bit of the climax.
VS: The Tamil film was based in Mumbai as well. In fact, the original script was for a Hindi film, but since the Tamil version was made first, this is technically a remake. But instead of getting complacent, Murugadoss made small changes to make the film relevant to our audience.
Tell us about the film’s story?
VS: Holiday is a story about the operation of sleeper cells. Akshay is an army officer who returns home on a holiday, but as they say, a man in uniform is never off duty.