Shamshera director Karan Malhotra calls Ranbir Kapoor ‘curious, childlike’, breaks down the film’s trailer

Ranbir Kapoor is the flavor of this month, or should we say this year? The actor returns to the screen after a long break with two mega productions — Yash Raj Films’ Shamshera and Ayan Mukerji’s Brahmastra. The trailer of Shamshera was launched recently, which presented Ranbir in a double role. In an interview, film’s director Karan Malhotra breaks down the trailer and explains its most important scenes. He also talks about the bond he has with his Shamshera actor, and has a special message for him as Ranbir and wife Alia Bhatt announce their pregnancy.

Karan, who has directed Hrithik Roshan in Agneepath earlier, presented a new facet of Ranbir as an actor in Shamshera, a dacoit drama set in pre-Independence India. “Directing Ranbir was a very new experience and enriching experience as he is a new-age actor. He is an actor who internalizes a lot, you see that in all of his performances. He is not a loud actor, he is not out there, but my cinema is exactly that. He has really worked hard in imbibing my sensibilities into his performance and giving it his best. Once, I went into his van and told him that I need to talk to him, to which he asked, ‘tu daantne toh nahi aayaa mujhe? (have you come to scold me?)’. I said ‘no’, but in Shamshera, I needed a ‘sixer’ from him in every shot.”

But if Ranbir is not the loud actor that a dacoit drama would otherwise need, why cast him? Karan says that Ranbir brings in freshness that is unexpected. “Ranbir brings in the freshness to Shamshera that an actor rarely brings these days. What is unique about Shamshera, and why the trailer has been received well, is because Ranbir is not an usual suspect for a film like this. For example, you would not think of Hrithik Roshan for Agneepath at that time, you wouldn’t think of Rishi Kapoor as Rauf Lala (in Agneepath) at that time or think of Sanjay (Dutt) to be a villain at that time. So, I think, I enjoy those challenges, and for me, it is almost a pattern that I repeat, otherwise a film would not have a kind of newness and discovery, where would that come from?”

Karan believes with Ranbir in the cast, Shamshera is more contemporary. “Because Ranbir is a new generation actor, so when he enters into my world, he makes it new. He gives it a new twist, he makes it more contemporary despite of the film being set in a different era. So, that is of great value to a filmmaker like me,” Karan adds.

The filmmaker also shared that Shamshera wasn’t exactly easy on Ranbir, because, “it is not Ranbir’s world”. He shares, “I am very thankful to Ranbir for sticking with it as it was not an easy film for him. He could easily opt out of it saying, ‘yeh mera world nahi hai’. I followed my instinct and he really made it his world and really went all in. There were two Ranbirs on set, one was before action and one was after action, and we could see the divide very clearly. He played Shamshera with utmost madness and played Balli with even more madness.”

Shedding light on the person his lead actor is, Karan says, “The first day I met him, his childlike behavior and his curiosity impressed me. He not only asked about the film, but the person he is working with. He’s asked me the most honest questions an actor could ask me, to get to know me better. He is as innocent as you want him to be, as mastikhor as you want him to be, he is as lovable as you want him to be and at the same time he is as detached. I love that about him, because times and life can change people for the worst, but Ranbir is a constant. He is majestic the way he is.”

The year 2022 truly belongs to Ranbir — he has two film ready to release, several in the pipeline, his marriage with Alia Bhatt took place in April and now the two will soon become parents. When asked whether the announcement of pregnancy overshadowed his film, Karan says, “If you look in a certain way, everything seems negative. I know for a fact that whatever material we have released has been received well so far. Everything is positive. Brahmastra is coming out, our film is coming out, he is going to be a father soon, Alia is going to be a mother soon, it is all good news and it is all good luck for us, so we are just celebrating it. ”

Breaking down the film’s trailer, Karan addresses the introduction of Ranbir as Balli, the protagonist. “That is the playful section if the film, of Balli. Here, we show his world and him as a character who is unaware of bigger things that are at play at that point. The whole energy of Ranbir with the kids is really palpable in the trailer and brings a smile on everybody’s face, because, when the teaser came out, people expected the film to be dark, but with the trailer they realized that there are more flavors to it. What you see in the trailer is not even one percent of what the film is going to offer.”

Karan picks up Sanjay Dutt and Ranbir’s shot where the two are charging towards each other. “Woh toh hona hi tha. It is inevitable. It would be foolish of us to not imagine it. Bring them to do what they have done in the film was very easy because of the camaraderie the two of them share. They are not two professionals trying to outsmart each other on a film set. They are two family members who respect and love each other a lot. They were through professionals without trying to interfere with each other’s private space as performers. There was no insecurity or judgement, no politics.”


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