Sidharth breathed new life into character: Director

Sidharth Malhotra literally breathed new life into the character: 'Shershaah' director Vishnuvardhan

In a chat with DH, Vishnu shares his experiences of making 'Shershaah' and why it is indeed special for him

Director Vishnuvardhan (right) with actor Siddharth Malhotra. Credit: Amazon Prime Video

The buzz around 'Shershaah', releasing on August 12 on Amazon Prime Video, was expected, given that its director Vishnuvardhan has super-hits like 'Arinthum Ariyamalum', 'Pattiyal', 'Billa' and 'Arrambam' in his kitty.

Having lived in Mumbai for more than five years, Vishnu too was on familiar terrain as he knew the language, culture and Bollywood ethos. Vishnu says directing 'Shershaah' came easily to him because he was already involved in its scripting with writer Sandeep Srivastava. Researching for the story and visiting real locations helped him give the direction and narration that extra edge, he says.

In a freewheeling chat with Deccan Herald, Vishnu shares his experiences of making 'Shershaah' and why it is indeed special for him.

Excerpts:

Are you excited about having made your directorial debut in Bollywood? 

I have worked in eight feature films down South, so working in Bollywood just meant a change of language while the art remains the same. I know how to read, write and speak Hindi fluently which made the task easier. Mumbai has been my home for the last five years, so I was no stranger to the place or the people. I have never worked on a film based on the Indian army and a biopic on the life and struggle of Capt Vikram Batra seemed interesting to capture on the big screen.

Did this film call for a lot of research and visit to some real locations? How did it all start? 

I came into the project through the research. Writer Sandeep Srivastava was already working on the project when he approached me to get a director's perspective. Since I was already helping Sandeep and familiar with the subject, producer Shabbir Boxwala asked me to direct the film. As a part of our research, Sandeep and I visited all the places where Capt Vikram had worked such as Kashmir, Punjab and UP. We literally followed his trail. Thanks to Capt V K Joshi and Capt Vishal Batra, we met all the people who served with Vikram during the war. We met his family and friends in Chandigarh and Palampur. It took six to eight months of just travelling to gather material. The journey by itself is worth recounting in a book. 

Did Sidharth Malhotra exceed your expectation in portraying the character of Vikram Batra?

Sidharth was already on board for the character before I joined the crew. His sharp features, height and age perfectly matched the character. He is good looking and exudes a certain charm. Sidharth did not imitate Vikram's life and instead portrayed the character using his own unique style. He literally breathed new life into the character. 

How different is this biopic from the earlier ones we know of?

The most interesting aspect of the movie is the way the war was fought. They were fighting on a slope and we have tried to be as original and honest in bringing on screen what it would have been like to fight in those terrains. The struggles and strategies have been presented as they were in that situation.