Ali Abbas Zafar interview: On bringing Bloody Daddy sequel to theatres and more | Bollywood - Hindustan Times
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Ali Abbas Zafar on Bloody Daddy's OTT release: 'Will see if we can make a sequel for the theatres'

ByDevansh Sharma
Jun 13, 2023 07:25 AM IST

In an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times, director Ali Abbas Zafar speaks extensively about the decisions he took when making Bloody Daddy.

It's been three years since Ali Abbas Zafar has made a theatrical film. His last was Bharat on Eid in 2019, and his next, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, a buddy action comedy starring Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff, is slated to release next Eid. (Also read: Bloody Daddy movie review: This Shahid Kapoor-starrer serves everything half-baked)

Shahid Kapoor plays the lead in Ali Abbas Zafar's Bloody Daddy.
Shahid Kapoor plays the lead in Ali Abbas Zafar's Bloody Daddy.

Meanwhile, he's not been sitting idle. He came up with three OTT titles that introduced a different side of the filmmaker to his core audience. The latest, Bloody Daddy, an action film starring Shahid Kapoor, is streaming free on Jio Cinema.

Immediately after the release, in an exclusive interview, Zafar talks about designing a Gurgaon gangster film, mining humour out of the COVID times it's set in, and whether he thinks it should've been a theatrical release.

The common gripe with Bloody Daddy is that it should've been a theatrical release. Looking at the reactions, do you feel it belonged to the cinemas?

It's a big compliment when people watch your content and say it's a big-screen experience. But we were very clear that the film deals with certain things that are very important for its storytelling. Like the bag of drugs. Secondly, it's a little hard in terms of action. There are guns, there's blood. And there's also a certain kind of language that the characters speak. When people say they're liking Bloody Daddy, they're also liking it for its authenticity.

Most of the action films aren't reviewer-friendly. What we wanted to do was a commercial action film which was very credible. That's why even in the action, there's not even one slow-motion shot. It's more of a street brawl. If we would have made it for the big screen, we'd have to put in songs suddenly in the middle of the narrative. Then this would get corrupted. Tomorrow, if there's a sequel, we'll see if we can make it for the theatres.

Is there a sequel? Because you do leave some scope for one in the end.

Haha! Let's see. It always depends on the love the character and the world get. And it can't be defined by one-day love. It has to be a long love. People have to be talking about it six months or a year after the release. Then it's a validation that the film and the character have stayed with the audience.

What made you adapt Bloody Daddy from its original, 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, when it had already been adapted in India into the Kamal Haasan-starrer Thoonga Vanam in the same year?

When I watched the original, the vulnerability of the lead character really attracted me. You don't know how he's going to rescue his kid from the bad guys. And I needed an actor who had intensity, but at the same time can give me a softer side to him. So he played the character on the lines where you don't know whether you love him or hate him. He's not responsible as a father. Till the very end, we don't know if he's a good guy or a bad guy. But he proves that he's definitely a good father.

I feel the free release on Jio Cinema is an apt distribution plan because the film is set after the second COVID wave, a phase in which many of us had switched to OTT. Was the idea behind the setting to lend situational humour to the film?

The idea was to situate the film in a very real world. Because the plot is really a one-liner. COVID was a real problem for a lot of us, including those who couldn't pay rent on time and were forced out of their homes. But I wanted to make people enjoy this in hindsight through a quirky lens. In India, we either do slapstick or we become very intense. But there's a famous Charlie Chaplin line, "If you see tragedy in a wide shot, you see it as comedy."

While we've seen a lot of films and series that dealt with that phase, they've mostly been decidedly introspective. Bloody Daddy just happens to be an action film set in the COVID times.

Exactly! It was a really tough time because people lost lives. But when the lockdown of the second wave was lifted, I was in Delhi and Chandigarh, and it was an entirely different scene. There were weddings in hotels, people were dancing, there was a lot of partying. Because people were at home for over a year. Weddings that were planned got pushed. So when things opened, everyone just let loose. It was almost like revenge partying after the second lockdown because by then, people were tired of getting locked into their homes all over again, months after the first wave.

Bloody Daddy is also such a Gurgaon gangster film. We've seen gangster dramas set largely in Mumbai or Uttar Pradesh. But how did you design a gangster film set in Gurgaon, one that's diametrically opposite in visuals and textures to Shanker Raman's Gurgaon (2016)?

Gurgaon NCR is very relatable. People wear flashy clothes but don't know how to talk. There's a lot of showsha in Delhi, with swanky cars and glitzy weddings, and Badshah performing. My favourite scene is when Ronit Roy and Sanjay Kapoor cool down after a brawl. Ronit says, "Dekh tune meri Gucci jacket ka kya kar dia". And Sanjay Kapoor replies, "Aur mere Armani ka kya?" It's such a Gurgaon thing because no one just says jacket there. They prefix it with the brand so that people know they're wearing a Gucci or Armani.

Fans have been comparing Bloody Daddy to John Wick since it's a stylistic action film set in a hotel. Were there any hat tips to that franchise?

People only draw that comparison because Shahid is wearing a black suit and his body type is very close to that of Keanu Reeves. The reason behind wearing that in the film is because people have seen him in the leather jacket so he needs to change his identity. He changes clothes in order to mingle with the crowd. There may be visual parallels like action sequences in a washroom and gaming room, but character and story-vise, both films are poles apart.

Bloody Daddy is set in a hotel and is the story of one night. You've always shot sprawling films that stretch across place and time, like Sultan (2016), Tiger Zinda Hai (2017) and Bharat (2019). You finished this film in one place within 36 days. Did this concentrated style of shooting lend an urgency to the thriller?

We were still in the middle of COVID so we had to create a bubble. That helped prepare the actors and the crew mentally to believe they were back in the COVID world. Shahid and I were very clear that since it's the story of one night, we had to make the filming very contained so as to create an environment that it's really happening that fast.

It's your third OTT project after Tandav and Jogi. Now that you're filming your next theatrical release, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, are you going to miss creating for the streaming space?

OTT has been very liberating for me. As an artist, you don't have to think about anything else and you can bring your art form to the fore without any corruption. But when you make a film for theatres, you have to design it in a way that it caters to everyone: the kids, the elders, the youth. You have to justify the star power of the actor who's in it. I didn't do a theatrical film in the last three years because of COVID. My sets are very extensive with a lot of people and travel. Travel restrictions and budgets were becoming a big nightmare because everyone was asking for health insurance. So we were very clear as a company that we'll make a theatrical film when life starts ticking some normalcy. I've finished my principal photography for Bade Miyan Chote Miyan and have started editing the film. So you'll see my next theatrical release next Eid.

Lastly, with Bloody Daddy, you made all lactose intolerant people feel seen. Where did the crucial inclusion of lactose-free milk in the narrative stem from?

Haha! When you go out now, everyone's asking for lactose-free milk. And for the longest time, I had no clue what it was. It represents the Gen-Z that's so well-educated, clued in, and they know so early in life what they want. We'd never thought about this concept because hum toh bhains ka doodh pee ke bade huye hain. So to my generation, it's a term that we'll never forget. And that's what I played on in my film.

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