2.0 director Shankar says Arnold Schwarzenegger, not Akshay Kumar, was his original choice
2.0 director Shankar spoke about why Arnold Schwarzenegger was his first choice and about collaborating with Rajinikanth again after Sivaji and Enthiran.Updated: Nov 27, 2018 16:32 IST
This year, Shankar completes 25 years as a film director (after starting with Gentleman in 1993). And it’s interesting to note that in his landmark year of sorts, Shankar is readying for the release of his biggest film till date, 2.0 (budgeted at close to Rs 550 crore). “I have mixed feelings right now. But there isn’t much of nervousness because I have done my best. Everyone from my cast and crew has also put in lot of efforts. We just hope audiences appreciate our effort,” says the director, as he talks about his stint with Arnold Schwarzenegger and more.
Firstly, how do you manage to catch hold of Rajinikanth for your back-to-back films?
If you go to him with a good story, he will immediately agree. Also, since he had already worked with me in 2-3 films, he was confident about me. In fact, despite his health conditions [during the shoot], he travelled a lot for the film. We shot the climax in Delhi in 47 degrees, and he was unwell at that time but he still turned up. We had 100s of junior artistes, technicians and actors, so he didn’t want everybody to wait and also since a lot of money was invested.
How and when did you think of taking Robot/Enthiran story forward?
As soon as the Robot released, everybody was interested to in part 2. Many wanted it to start immediately because everyone had loved everybody in the film, Chitti and the sci-fi bit. Even I was excited, but I feel a story should evolve naturally. So I told Rajni sir, ‘let us wait, once the story evolves, we will start it, and not just for the sake of working on it. And then 3-4 years back, this story worked out which everyone loved.
You were in talks with Arnold Schwarzenegger for the villain’s part but finally Akshay Kumar has done it...
I am very happy with the way things have worked out. 2.0 has a global message because whoever has a cell phone -- practically everyone in the world -- will relate to it. That’s why I thought that if I could get a global star in the movie, then the story will reach everywhere.
So, why couldn’t things work out with Arnold?
We had detailed talks (with Arnold). He had even allotted dates and everything was set. In fact, when I met him, Arnold said that he had watched Robot twice. He also play-acted the way Chitti fired multiple machine guns in Robot. He showed a lot of interest to do the movie but when it came to the contract, things didn’t work out because the format of contracts in India and US are totally different. Then we decided to go with an Indian star/actor.
How did Akshay come on board?
Coincidentally, 2.0’s production house was planning a Hindi movie with Akshay sir. When they suggested his name, I was like, ‘it would be fantastic.’ And when I narrated the story to him, he liked it. It was great [working with him] because like him, even I am disciplined and punctual (smiles). So, things went very well.
Is it true that Kamal Hassan was also approached for Akshay’s part?
Yes, I had approached him. I thought since Rajni sir and Kamal sir have not come together on screen for very long, it would be fantastic. And the idea was not to just bring them together just for the sake of it but the roles also deserved big actors but Kamal sir was interested in doing Indian 2. But finally, I must say it’s great to see Akshay sir in the film.
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