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‘Want to tell youth that India was football superpower’

Mr India producer Boney Kapoor is gearing up to shoot his next film with Ajay Devgn in Lucknow from August. The film is based on football coach Syed Abdul Rahim.

lucknow Updated: May 17, 2019 17:53 IST
Deep Saxena
Deep Saxena
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Boney Kapoor,Lucknow,Syed Abdul Rahim
Producer Boney Kapoor In Lucknow.(HT Photo)

Mr India producer Boney Kapoor is gearing up to shoot his next film with Ajay Devgn in Lucknow from August. The film is based on football coach Syed Abdul Rahim.

“We want to tell the youth and everyone that India is not just about cricket or hockey! We had a coach who led India to gold at the Jakarta Asian Game (1963) and reached the semi-finals of the Melbourne Olympics (1956). During that period, football pundits used to call India the ‘Brazil of Asia’,” said Kapoor during a tête-à-tête on his visit to Lucknow. Excerpts: 

Not many people know about Syed Abdul Rahim.

The story is very interesting. Currently, India’s FIFA ranking is above 100 and at one time we were Olympic semi-finalists. He (Rahim) was the one who designed the 4,2,4,1 combination. He was a football player and also a professor of psychology. So, he understood every player who played under him and accordingly placed players. Our tagline will be ‘golden days of India football’.

How did you chance upon this story?

Akash Chawla and Joy Gupta, who are my partners in this project, brought this idea to me which I loved. Saiwayn Quadras (writer for ‘Mary Kom’ and ‘Neerja’) is writing the screenplay while Ritesh Shah (writer ‘Kahaani’, ‘Pink’ and ‘Raid’) is writing the dialogues. ‘Tevar’ director Amit Ravindernath Sharma is the captain of ship and his last film ‘Badhai Ho’ was a big hit. We will ensure that we give him the best technicians so that he makes a film which is as enduring as the story sounds. We will have a Hollywood expert to choreograph the entire game sequence.

Tell us about the cast of the film?

Ajay (Devgn) is very excited about the project and most of the actors in the film are new but accomplished football players. South India cinema’s top actress Keerty Suresh will play Ajay’s wife in the film. All the player-actors are being trained by a coach for the last two months.

And, what’s the UP connection of the film?

I was born in Meerut and whatever ‘zameen se jude’ (down-to-earth) subjects we get, I try to shoot it in Uttar Pradesh. We shot ‘Tevar’ in Mathura and Agra, ‘Mom’ was shot in Noida and Greater Noida. This shoot will be done in Lucknow. This story is about the glorious days of Indian football. The story spans between 1951 and 1962. Lucknow still has old history, a culture and UP ‘ki mohabaat hai’ (love with the state) which compelled me to come here and shoot the film. Lucknow is very friendly and our director and team have twice done a reconnaissance of the city (with line-producer Eiqbal Jaffry). It has heritage buildings and culture which will match the era we will be aiming to shoot.

Is the subsidy by UP government a draw?

Certainly! It is one of the many factors. But, I want to once again say and request the government to have different criteria and subsidy for films of different budgets. It’s a little unfair that a film of Rs 8 crore or Rs 80 crore get the same subsidy, as there is a ceiling on maximum subsidy (Rs 2 crore). If one shoots a film of Rs 100 crore, the exposure too will be of a bigger level as compared to a small-budget film. It should be proportionate. Abroad, we get up to 35-40% subsidy and tax benefits so this must be considered.

‘Mom’ is doing phenomenal in China

I am extremely happy and thrilled about ‘Mom’ releasing in China. It has pulled in Rs 62 crore in six days. The film is reaching non-traditional countries, which is a victory for Indian films.

With daughter Jhanvi and other family members into acting, does that tempt you when you are casting?

One has to be honest to the story and choose actors accordingly. This film is about players and a coach and the role suits Ajay more. Arjun (Kapoor) would have been too young and Anil (Kapoor) is doing other kinds of roles.

First Published: May 17, 2019 17:53 IST