His last release as a director was way back in 2000 Mission Kashmir and it has taken filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra seven years to get ready with his next directorial venture— Eklavya The Royal Guard that releases on February 16.
Well, Chopra’s production house may have kept hits flowing in Munnabhai MBBS, Parineeta and Lage Raho Munnabhai, but the man was never behind the camera.
So, the obvious question which strikes me first is was what kept him away from direction for so long? Now, before he answers the question, Chopra prefers to vent his anger on multiplexes with which he is on a fight over revenue sharing (a recent phenomenon that has hogged the limelight around several big releases).
“I don’t care what they do. I have to get my due, if that does not happen I won’t release my film at multiplexes,” is his straightforward answer. Well, we all hope that the logjam is sorted out and we are not deprived of watching the film which according to Chopra is “My dream project.”
Yes, it is and he gets back to answering the question why it took him so many years to direct a film. “The film is such that it couldn’t be written fast. It took five years and the reason is justified. It is a film that is different in many ways including treatment and so on,” is the answer from the maker of such landmark films like Parinda, 1942 A Love Story and Mission Kashmir.
Well, it’s his dream project and why shouldn’t it be? Have a look at the ensemble cast (he has never handled so many stars at the same time before). Amitabh Bachchan plays the title role, Sanjay Dutt, Saif Ali Khan, Boman Irani, Jackie Shroff, Sharmila Tagore, Vidya Balan, Jimmy Sheirgill, Raima Sen among others.
“Yes, it is an ensemble cast and I had reason enough to rope them in. I did not go for names, but went by characters that needed such actors,” justifies Chopra who directs Bachchan for the first time.
And yes, “The script was written keeping Bachchan in mind, yet, it is not just Bachchan centric. Every character has an important role to play,” adds Chopra who says, “Eklavya will be one of Bachchan’s all-time finest performances and people will remember it forever like some of his many other roles that he has portrayed with perfection over the years.”
And talk of Bachchan’s performance, Chopra informs that so moved was Hollywood star Ralph Fieness after watching the film that he had tears in his eyes and even went to meet Bachchan and compliment him.
“Eklavya, who is a trusted guard to a royal family is a man who finds himself between his commitment and his son,” Chopra explains the character.
“My aim is to make an entertaining film and there is no compromise on that. Be it preachy or whatever, at the end of the day it has to entertain the audience and that’s what Eklavya is,” clarifies Chopra.
It might look very satisfying as of now, but making such a film wasn’t a matter of joke as Chopra points out. “It is close to two hours and that was a deliberate attempt. What is the point making three-hour long films? This is the age for films with shorter lengths,” says the man.
Another USP of his films is music be it Parinda or 1942 A Love Story or his productions like Parineeta and others. What about Eklavya? “It has three tracks scored by Shantanu Moitra. Mind you the arrangement is of international standards and you will agree once the soundtrack is released,” adds Chopra whose production house is working on four films — including the sequel to Lage Raho Munnabhai, Munnabhai Chale Amerika.
Eklavya is Chopra’s dream. Let’s see whether it rakes in the moolah at the box office or not.