He is one of Britain’s top movie producers, a BAFTA award winner and an Academy Award nominee but Duncan Kenworthy, who is excited about his latest outing, The Eagle hitting the Indian screens on Friday (March 25), reveals he is a follower of Bollywood superstars Shah Rukh Khan and Aamir Khan’s acting skills.
"I am an admirer of Shah Rukh Khan. I’ve met him a few times in England. He and I talk about would it be interesting to work together. We haven’t done anything about it but may be in future you never know," he says before adding: "I am also a great admirer of Aamir Khan. It was through his film Lagaan that he broke through in the UK and really made me think differently about Bollywood films. I admire his career - the way he has handled his career and not just become an actor for hire. Aamir has managed to combine producing and staying as a film star and has that range which is impressive."
Known for presenting British romcoms like Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually that grossed grossed nearly $900 million at the worldwide boxoffice, Kenworthy, as of now, is keeping on his toes for his period drama The Eagle. He, however, warns about Indian audience’s expectations from the movie.
"If people go to see thinking of it as Gladiator, they might be disappointed because it isn’t an action film in that sense. It isn’t an action film like 300 too which is all about stylish fighting. It’s a drama and more of an adventure film," says the veteran, who was in India recently and travelled to Rajasthan and Mumbai.
“It’s a journey and sort of a buddy quest adventure about two guys in the north of Scotland. And it’s about loyalty and trust and friendship and patriotism. The lead characters are two people from different cultures who don’t understand each other and who see the world in different ways, and who must move beyond that to see each other as human beings,” adds the producer, who is glad the movie will release here in four languages.
“I’m delighted that it will be available to people not just in English but also in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. From the west point of time, there is more and more interest to communicate with people everywhere particularly in India and China,” he says.
Ask him about his transition to the period genre, he says: “The connection between those romantic movies and this period movie is simply my taste. There is no sort of career decision, it just happened because I love them both. I’m a creative producer rather than a financial producer.”
And the producer says he was glad with the way his epic shaped up. “It came up brilliantly. Both Kevin McDonald (the director) and I were very determined that the movie should be as authentic and accurate as possible. We made all the costumes from the scratch and doubled the budget of the costume department in the process. Likewise the production designer made a Roman Fort which uses the same techniques as the Romans did,” he says.
Prod him about the delayed release in the country and he says: “In our film, there’s a six week gap between the US and India release. It was only to choose a more competitive weekend.”
The veteran was also all praises for Bollywood outings. “They are very well made. They are very slick. They want to engage you on an emotional level which is at the heart of all the Bollwood movies. I am an admirer,” he says.
So has he seen any Bollywood venture? “About time we did a celebration of Bollywood films five year ago when I was chairman of the BAFTA. I’ve seen some films. I saw Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham,” he reveals.
Not many know that Kenworthy’s brush with Bollywood is not new. He cast seasoned actor Om Puri in his 2011 movie The Parole Officer. “Om is the loveliest man in the world. He is one of those wonderful men in the world you don’t meet often. I had a great time working with him (in The Parole Officer),” he says.
That’s not it for the producer, who is also gaga about the Big B. “Amitabh Bachchan came to London and I was obviously impressed by his profile and career,” he says.