Shershaah is your Hindi debut film as a director, why did you choose a Biopic on Vikram Bhatra as your first film?
The most interesting fact is that I was never even going to be a part of the film. Sometimes the film decides it's own destiny. That’s how it has happened to me. I was going to do another film and through our writers Sandeep Srivastava, I met Shabir Boxwalla, then met up with Karan Johar and spoke about this film and things happened. Me sitting in Chennai in some corner and you’re coming here and doing a film that to a biopic on Captain Vikram Batra who is right from Himachal, it’s a very bizarre thing to actually look at. What excited me the most is that you get a couple of remixes to make in Hindi and all that stuff, but that's was not exciting. It didn’t give me that excitement, if you’re coming and doing your first debut in Hindi why can’t it be something really nice. And certain things just happen, miracles just happen just like that you know, having a production like Dharma, which gives you a privilege of doing a film on the Indian Army and the honor to make a film on Captain Vikram Batra and the genre that I have never touched, I’ve never done an Indian Army film I have never done a biopic that was the most exciting thing for me to get on-board you know. As a maker, it gives you lots of adrenaline pumps and a lot of excitement that’s what actually happened with this.
Which was the other film that you were working on before Shershaah came to you?
See before Shershaah came to me, Sandeep Srivastava the writer of this film and I were working on another project which we were supposed to be doing with Kamal Hassan down south. We were just on a basic level of scripting, we just started that and Sandeep had gotten into just got into Shershaah do the research of it and he wanted a director's perspective so we started discussing the film. That’s how I first got to know the details of Captain Vikram Batra and I said, 'brother whoever is making this film is going to have a blast and he is going to have one memorable film of their life. You know which I really meant and I never knew at that point that I would actually end up making this film.
Sidharth has done a lot of research for the film. We had a couple of officers who had served with Vikram come down to meet up with the cast, they get to spend the time and understand what kind of a person he is. So Sidharth and I made sure that he is not going to imitate Captain Vikram Batra, because that’s not what we are going to do. We didn’t get into every detail like Vikram's mole or the way he used his hands. It was more about Vikram as a person, how he would think and how did he react to certain things everything together, so that's what Sidharth had to take in as a memory, and then he had to just act, you don’t have to imitate you Siddharth has his own strengths, the way he moves the way he talks. Now when I see Captain Vikram Batra and when I see Sidharth playing Captain Vikram Batra I feel like maybe Vikram Batra this is what would have happened this is what you had done because that’s what the vision you have.
Do you think Shershaah will be a game-changer in Sidharth's career?
See I don’t know about being a game-changer or anything like that because Siddharth himself is one of the sweetest guy to work with. I am telling you for a career if you’re talking about in everybody’s career there will be this one film which will become very special, it’s like for me this one is very special to me. Among the eight films that I have done as my ninth film, this is very special to me. Like that this will be a special film to Siddharth and to all of us who are involved in the film. So this film is going to be something that is going to be really special if it changes it’s good and will change for all of us.
So how much is it fictional and how much have you tried to stay true to the story because everyone takes liberty when it comes to a biopic so how much is fiction?
See keeping all the true incidents and the true events that have happened, we had to compile the story into two hours so there are a few cinematic liberties that you have to take in the terms of the timelines, in terms of everything. But in terms of the emotions and in terms of what actually happened we were trying to be as close as being very honest to work actually it happened. And in terms of the action sequences and putting the war, we tried to give the feeling of what kind of terrain they would have fought. Because the war was not shot on flat terrain, so there are some liberties that we had taken but it is not completely fictionalized.