MUMBAI: It is rare to find an actor-director team that acknowledge their shortcomings.
Indian National Award-winning actor Arjun Rampal and independent filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia are weirdly proud of their quirks. The duo will roll out their gangster epic Daddy on September 7 in the UAE.
“We are both strong-headed characters, to put it nicely,” said Rampal, looking at his partner in crime with an understanding smile. They both appreciate keeping a rational mind during a clash of ideas.
Rampal has acted, produced and co-written Daddy, a biopic about Arun Gawli, a gangster-turned-politician who is currently in jail for his 2008 conviction for murdering a politician.
Daddy represents the marriage of two schools of thoughts: the director hates sanitising his films to suit a formulaic Bollywood mould, while the actor understand his need for creative control.
Rampal, who has pumped in money and poured four years of his life into this no-frills film, reiterates that he didn’t have any sway over Ahluwalia’s directorial decisions.
“Ashim can be a producer’s delight and a producer’s nightmare because he loses sense of time. He gets so immersed in his work that he has that tunnel vision where he will just go into one thing – the nuts and bolts of a scene – and remains there. I have to pull him out and ask him to see the bigger picture,” said Rampal.
For instance, the coveted and crucial job of director of photography was picked by Ahluwali. A 27-year-old woman from Canada, Jessica Lee Gagne, was his choice, much to Rampal’s surprise.
“I told Ashim ‘we are going to war here and we are going to shoot in the underbelly of Mumbai and you are bringing a foreigner to shoot’… Ashim has this ability to make people push themselves to their limits,” said Rampal.
The actor predicted that Gagne would be felled by food poisoning just by eating a Punjabi samosa in a country that she isn’t familiar with. What Rampal said came true, but Ahluwalia’s trust in his team wasn’t displaced.
Their union wasn’t doomed and their collective struggle for Daddy has garnered widespread praise for its unique treatment.
The trailer for Daddy, which got more than 9 million views, is tipped to be one of the most promising gangster films of 2017. It is shorn off the usual gangster film tropes, such as the token item number by a starlet or a larger-than-life hero jumping off sky scrapers; there’s no superhero in this film. Even the poster is a grim, black and white image of Rampal’s character posing for a prison mug shot.