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Will Smith, Noomi Rapace, Joel Edgerton in India for Netflix’s Bright: I watched Dangal on my iPad

Netflix brought down the stars of its upcoming film Bright to India for a special premiere. Actors Will Smith, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace and director David Ayer talked to us about the film and what it symbolises.

hollywood Updated: Dec 19, 2017 13:22 IST
Rohan Naahar
Rohan Naahar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bright movie,Will Smith,Noomi Rapace
Will Smith gestures as he attends the premier of his cop thriller movie Bright in Mumbai.(AFP)

Will Smith, the star of the new Netflix original film, Bright, said that while we might be living in dark times, great change is coming. “I see this time in the world as a sort of cleansing, there are ways of being that will never exist anymore,” Smith said.

Smith was in town to attend the film’s Mumbai premiere, and to interact with the press along with his co-stars, Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace and director David Ayer.

His presence in India’s film capital signals Netflix’s bullish strategy in a country that has traditionally been very loyal to its regional film industries. They previously got Brad Pitt to be a part of an exclusive chat with Shah Rukh Khan, whose Red Chillies Entertainment signed a lucrative deal with the streaming service earlier this year.

Bright is Netflix’s biggest original production, an aggressive step into the blockbuster territory that has - for over a hundred years - been occupied by the Big Six (now five) movie studios.

The streaming giant’s advertising highlights this dismantling of the theatrical experience. Several billboards across Mumbai announced that the fantasy film - about men and women and orcs and fairies - would ‘premiere in back seats’ and ‘living rooms’.

“My son watches movies on his phone,” Rapace said. “I watched Dangal (Aamir Khan’s critically and commercially acclaimed movie) on my iPad, and it translates.” The crew hopes for Bright to have a similar universality.

For now, however, it’s under fierce scrutiny - will it perform better than Netflix’s previous swing for the big leagues, Brad Pitt-starrer war satire, War Machine? Would Ayer’s universally unloved Suicide Squad loom large? Bright does share certain tonal similarities with that DCEU film, besides star Will Smith.

“David comes across as a tough, macho dude, but he has the sweetest heart,” Rapace said. “He grew up in a very tough neighbourhood (in Los Angeles, where the film is set), he was in the military and he’s seen a lot of suffering, and Leilah (Rapace’s character) is his way of dealing with this suffering.”

Ayer’s movies, going as far back as Training Day, have always been about the collision of authority and duty. Bright is a cop movie that is very much in the same space as Ayer’s other films about law enforcement - films like Training Day, End of Watch and Street Kings. Like those films, it makes an attempt to answer - or at least address - some of modern American society’s most pressing concerns - police brutality, racism, and corruption. These themes could easily be transported to India.

“How do we all fit in together,” wondered Edgerton, “How do we all get along, and how do we do that without judging each other.”

Smith said that “the film’s switch of the social ladder was interesting.”

In Bright, the elves are the one percenters, and orcs occupy the same space as minorities would in our world. “Humans,” Smith said, “are smashed in the middle.”

He plays a human cop in Bright, a family man who isn’t too pleased with being partnered up with an orc. To prepare for the role, he said him and Edgerton did ride-alongs with the LAPD, and were very aware of the conversation around police brutality.

“In America, the police are ‘of the people’, so sometimes the police are working in neighbourhoods in which they live,” Smith said. “I do think it’s dark right now,” he said again, and Edgerton agreed. “There are so many cops we met who were simply good guys,” he said. “We’re asking in this film for people to stop judging an entire race.”

Edgerton brought up Get Out, Jordan Peele’s horror hit from earlier this year that explored what it is like to live as a black man in modern America. He said that while Bright tackles an important subject, “it isn’t pretending to be too serious in its delivery.”

“We live in a world where people are quick to draw a line between me and you, and us and them. Oh no, that’s a Muslim and that’s an Indian. We want to divide. For me, that doesn’t work. It’s time for a more tolerant and open world,” Rapace finished.

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First Published: Dec 18, 2017 17:27 IST