"For the last five years, I’ve been asked when I was going to make an out-and-out action film. It’s been a long wait but as soon as I saw Surya’s Tamil film, Singham, I knew I had to remake it in Hindi,” says director Rohit Shetty whose father MB Shetty was a stunt-actor, who assisted Ajay Devgn’s father, action director Veeru Devgn. The Rohit-Ajay combo is already a hit in Bollywood, but in the case of Singham, Rohit insists that he couldn’t think beyond Ajay. “He’s the Surya of the north,” he smiles.
“Singham is no Bond flick. It is a simple, old-fashioned, earthy action film revolving around the good guy and the baddie. It takes us back to the time when the hero could single-handedly take down 10 people and still appear innocently boyish. We’ve grown up on such movies but it’s been a while since we saw them.”
Local connections! Gokarnath is a two-and-a-half hours drive from Goa. It’s the Haridwar of the south. About 100 kilometres from there is my dad’s native village, where I decided to stage a fight during the annual ‘rathutsav’ (chariot festival). Every year, during Shivratri, the ‘savari’ sets out and moves all over Gokarnath. It’s peak season! For three days, we cordoned off the main market and shot with real crowds. Everyone was supportive. But I think I got permission to shoot only because I’m a local boy.
Donna Paula drop Donna Paula is like the Gateway of India in Goa. At any given day, there are around 500-600 tourists around. On weekends, their numbers swell to over 1,000. We shot there for six days and got the green light from the authorities only on the condition that the tourist spot would not be cordoned off. That made shooting difficult because you had to be prepared for star gazers strolling in, and since we were filming action sequences, ensure that they weren’t in danger. This particular car sequence ended with the car going into the lake and five people flying out of it. We had boats and lifeguards waiting in the lake to scoop up the stuntmen as soon as they dropped. As for the car, we had an industrial crane in attendance, ready to swoop it out because we couldn’t pollute the lake.
Slick sickle act! This is one of the first action sequences in the film and the first time Ajay appears shirtless on screen. He trained for six months to ensure that he got both the body and the body language right. Since the attack happens in a film, I couldn’t go for a hi-tech Bazuka but settled instead for a sickle. Just as deadly!
50 cars all at sea… The Vagator Beach is another crowded tourist hotspot and we shot the climax there with 50 odd cars. We had taken some cars from Mumbai and got a few in Goa. It was a difficult shoot, Ajay’s confrontation scene with his superiors. We canned it over two days, starting at 3 pm. You will get to see a new side to Goa’s seaface. … 50 cars in a circle A circle of the same cars continued into the climax that marked a final face-off between Ajay and his Enemy No 1, Prakash Raj. It was by far the most difficult shoot and not only meant coordinating with 50 drivers and 50 action coordinators but cordoning off the building of the Archeological Survey of India for two days. But it’s one of the highpoints of Singham!