Rohit Shetty’s Sooryavanshi promises to be a heady mix of explosions, flying cars and the onscreen collaboration of Akshay Kumar, Ranveer Singh and Ajay Devgn for the first time. The director’s third cop franchise movie revolves around the trio’s attempt to foil a terrorist plot in Mumbai. While it’s arguably one of the year’s most anticipated movies, its trailer has also been beset by criticisms regarding its representation of Muslims and glorification of police brutality. In a soon-to-be-released interview with Anupama Chopra, Shetty addressed these criticisms and gave us a behind-the-scenes information about the film. Edited excerpts:
On whether the film’s release is mistimed given allegations of police brutality
A lot of people have asked me this, not only this time but whenever I am making a film on cops. My only answer to them is that for one day, let’s shut down the headquarters of the Mumbai Police. Let us tell them, ‘You guys are bad, go now.’ Then what happens to the city? It will turn into a jungle. See, there are good people, bad people and politics happening everywhere. The image of the police is that the constable standing outside or maybe that one RTO guy is the police. No, when someone is arrested and then taken to the police station then they realise: Oh that is the police. There are so many departments and there is so much happening in the city that you don’t find out about. At present, the rule is that the police don’t need to tell the public everything so that they don’t panic. So I don’t think it is mistimed. For me, when you see the trailer, Ajay and Ranveer are coming together but at the same time, it is Singham and Simmba coming together. You know their lives and what they’ve been through. So I don’t think it will backfire.
On the representation of Muslims in the film
When you see the film, Jackie Shroff’s character has a past that tells you why is he like that. He’s not the typical villain who gets killed in the end. You see Gulshan Grover with his attire and you understand that he is a Muslim. We thought that it should not come across like we are bashing one community. We wanted to underline that because when you see the film, everything is justified. Even Kumud Mishra’s character is justified. In the promo, we’ve said that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. So the theory of the film is that. It’s not four terrorists hitting someone with a blanket in Pakistan and saying Hindustan ko naist o nabood kar denge. It’s nothing like that.
On Ranveer’s ‘Kiska zyaada bada hai…entry, koi farak nahi padta hai’ line
That is Ranveer. The dialogue was actually very normal. He took that pause. And then we all said: Fine, let it be. He took that pause deliberately. We let it go because it was working and we all started laughing.
On his references for action movies
Now, you can’t look at other films. You have to create. Otherwise, these kids compare frames and say that it’s copied. I have stolen one or two shots from south (Indian) films. It was a challenge in Sooryavanshi. No one can say it’s copied from anywhere because we’ve stopped doing that. Sooryavanshi has completely original action scenes.