Perfectly capturing the current mood in India of curbing corruption, bribery and intimidation in the upper echelons of power and authority, ‘Ungli’, produced by Dharma Productions, is a beautifully acted and directed narrative.
The supremo-director and producer Karan Johar gives the edgy film a noir comic twist in a setting of a sprawling metropolis, where corruption, intimidation and violence are a way of life.
Despite some major hold-ups due to Sanjay Dutt’s prison release dates to make him available for shooting of the film, both director and producer say they remained committed to have the film ready before the end of the year.
‘Ungli’ conveys, in an effective and humorous manner, a story of how five ordinary citizens can make a difference in a city blighted by dark forces whilst literally giving the proverbial ‘finger’ to the corrupt and dishonest.
The ensemble cast consists of Sanjay Dutt, Emraan Hashmi, Kangana Ranaut, Randeep Hooda and boasts a terrific supporting cast. Audiences can also look forward to the stunning Shraddha Kapoor as she makes a special appearance in an item number not to be missed.
We catch up with both Karan Johar and Rensil D’Silva.
Director Rensil D’Silva gives Asian Express an insight into the film
How would you describe ‘Ungli’?
It is a story about friendship and is a very character-driven film. It’s about what happens when a gang of friends decide to take justice into their own hands. The film itself has a lot of really humorous moments, which adds to the already good storyline.
How did you cope with the delays?
The delays frustrated the hell out of me. I think the worst thing that can happen to a director is for his lead actor to go to jail and for him to face the possibility of an incomplete film. It is something that I have no control over; the only option I could think of was to reshoot it. That is a lot of money and time and the mental stress it puts you under is unparalleled.
Were there any positives that came from the delays?
The music! Had I released Ungli last year, I wouldn’t have gotten these songs. Music is becoming extremely crucial for the success of a film and I think the album is fantastic.
How did you deal with Sanjay Dutt’s legal issues during the filming of ‘Ungli’?
I changed the venue of the shoot from Byculla to Carter Road. The media was chasing him everywhere; they had positioned themselves outside his apartment complex. I felt Carter Road would be easier for him as it is closer to his Pali Hill residence. In some particular scenes I cut out some of his lines, it was the least I could do as a director. I felt that I shouldn’t give him too many lines to remember during that traumatic period.
Did you have any plans if Sanjay Dutt couldn’t have come back to filming?
I didn’t have any back up plan at all. Whether I would reshoot or not would have been Karan’s [Johar] decision because it involves lots of money. However, if I had to reshoot, I would go to Anil Kapoor, with whom I have worked with on ‘24’ and would have told him to please do the film as it is safe to say, I was in deep trouble.
What was it like filming with Sanjay Dutt when he knew he was facing incarceration?
The mood was very sober on the sets when Sanjay was around. The last scene he filmed was a very dramatic scene, at the end of it he got very emotional. We hugged him but Sanjay didn’t say anything. He went aside to do a brief photo-shoot and then didn’t return, he just drove off. Imagine what he must have undergone that day! I was asking so much from a man who was going through hell.
What should people expect from Ungli?
It is Dharma’s first film with Emraan and has a very different plot to the kind of subjects we have explored in the past. Rensil D’Silva has put his heart and soul into this one. The film follows a group of friends who have had enough of the corruption that faces them every day and decide to take it upon themselves to change things.
How did you feel when you found out you would have to delay the film?
It was really stressful at the time, both Rensil and I both felt under huge amounts of pressure and neither of us knew exactly what was going to happen. When something like that happens during filming it can often be the end of the film. We still had a number of scenes to shoot and without Sanjay it just wasn’t possible. Fortunately we were able to complete the film and I think that the delay has actually helped the film overall, I am really happy with how Ungli has turned out.
Why did you decide to include Shraddha Kapoor in this film?
I have been a big fan of Shradda’s work for a while now and thought she would be perfect for the song. I know she hasn’t really done anything like this before so I thought I would offer it to her. When I spoke to her she was really excited about the opportunity and was excited to do something new! It worked out really well in the end, Shraddha and Emraan worked perfectly together!
How was it working with your mother to produce this film?
We have worked together on a number of films now and I have always enjoyed working with her. I have heard stories of people hating working with their family but I personally find it really easy. We have a great working relationship and we both know what we like and dislike. She is fantastic at what she does and given the opportunity to work with her on this film was great.