Q. So what’s ‘Hawaizaada’ about?
A: It’s about the flight of the first unmanned airplane in India in 1895. When I learnt more about the character and the story of the event, I found that this was before even the Wright brothers in America, which I find incredible. India had a real role to play in the history of aviation and I think it’s great we’ve got this chance to show that to the world.
Q. And your character?
A: I play Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, who designed the plane. He was a fascinating character both as a historical figure in India’s history but also as a human being. Vibhu Puri (director) offered me this amazing story of an unsung hero. The way he has fictionalised it, the way he has taken the creative liberty and added his own flavour to the story of a guy who made the world’s first aircraft is incredible.”
Q. We heard that you weren’t paid for this film, is this true?
A: Yes, it’s true. To be honest, I didn’t look to do this film for the money. The film was having some trouble with budgets and I knew I didn’t want to charge for my services because it was worth it! There are some films you do to satisfy your soul, not your stomach.
Q: Hawaizaada took one-and-a-half years to make. What made it take so long?
A: There were some complications regarding budgets, which did delay the filming. Unfortunately some things are out of your control so you have to just get on with it. But delays aside, this film took a long time to make because it was worth it. A lot of films get churned out but this film needed to have time taken over it. Vibhu insisted that we get it right even if it took a dozen takes but if that’s what it takes to make a great film, that’s the price you’ve got to pay. He’s got a real eye for detail and despite the cast groaning about doing a certain shot over and over again, in the end you’ve got a great scene.
Q: What was it like working with Vibhu Puri?
A: I didn’t know too much about him other than what friends had said about him. With them though, he had a great reputation despite being very new on the scene. I think this was his first full-length film. He’s young, but he works like a seasoned pro. He’s like all directors should be, to the point and knows how to talk to his cast. Vibhu had a very clear vision of how he wanted the film to go and he did as much as he could to make that happen. He was keen on hearing other people’s point of view, which I like. Sometimes an actor would suggest a way a certain shot was taken and he’d say ‘Actually, that’s better!’
Q: You’ve said before that this film has touched you. Would you like to explain why?
A: There were several reasons. When you spent 18 months on anything, it’s always going to be of significance to you. In the future, when I look back, I’ll think of the time I spent with this team and on ‘Hawaizaada’. I also found the storyline fascinating. It was a story that I had to fully research to get under this man’s skin and be him. When you become a real life person, it’s very different to playing a fictional one, there’s something to base your character on. With films you get out of them what you put in. I put my heart and soul into this film because I truly cared about it. When you care that much about a film, it’s always going to have a huge effect on you.