A number of Bollywood actors are watching Hollywood films to prepare for their characters, whether it is to avoid repetition, seem authentic or just to understand their roles better. Bollywood films have been inspired by those in Hollywood for a very long time, but now, Indian actors also seem to be picking up a thing or two from their counterparts in the west.
So, while director Vikramjit Singh gave Ranbir Kapoor the reference of Matt Damon’s role in Good Will Hunting (1997) for their upcoming film, Roy, Varun Dhawan had multiple sources to seek inspiration from for Badlapur. He watched Sean Penn-starrers, Dead Man Walking (2005) and 21 Grams (2003), Monica Bellucci’s Irréversible (2002) alongside the TV show, Breaking Bad.
Sean-Penn in 21 Grams (top right), a shot from Breaking Bad (bottom right) and a still from Penn-starrer Dead Man Walking
"Since I am playing an older man, Sriram (Raghavan; director) wanted me to watch the films to get my character’s body language right. So, for instance, Irréversible helped me understand the negative vibe of my role. Watching these films helped me understand what Sriram was looking for," says Varun.
A still from Matt Damon's Good Will Hunting.
Meanwhile, Vikramjit picked Damon’s character as a reference because Ranbir’s role has a "dark and edgy" vibe. "Till now, he has had a lover boy image with a boyish charm, so when I briefed him about this role, he was surprised. But I asked him to trust me. I feel it’s going to be his best performance till date," the director told us previously. Authenticity
For Vidyut Jammwal — who has two different looks in Tigmanshu Dhulia’s gangster drama, set in the ’70s — referring to films from that time period, such as Robert De Niro’s The Deer Hunter (1978) and Al Pacino’s The Godfather (1972) was essential to see the actors’ looks in these movies, and maintain authenticity.
Al Pacino's The Godfather (left) and a still from Robert De Niro’s The Deer Hunter.
Pacino was apparently an inspiration for Akshay Kumar, too, when he played a "quiet, brooding" don in Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara (2013). "In the film, Akshay’s character speaks very little, so you see a lot of what I call silent power," film-maker Milan Luthria told HT Café earlier. In fact, Pacino reportedly watched the film’s trailer, and even praised Akshay’s performance saying it "brought some fond memories back" from his Godfather days. No repetition
There are also actors who watch films that have similar characters — but not for inspiration. Explaining why Priyanka Chopra and the team behind Mary Kom (2014) watched other boxing films like Rocky (1976) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), director Omung Kumar says, "The idea was to avoid whatever has already been shown in films. Doing this helps because you understand the mistakes committed, and you know what to avoid."
A still from Million Dollar Baby (middle) and Sylvester Stallone-starrer Rocky.