The one-of-its-kind zombie-comedy Go Goa Gone completed eight years of release on May 11. We caught up with the cast of the film – Kunal Kemmu, Vir Das and Anand Tiwari – in a candid chat on the making of the film, bringing Saif Ali Khan on board, creating zombies out of tourists in Goa, and more. Excerpts:
Kunal Kemmu: "You know, it was very interesting. The initial idea was never to do a zombie film. In fact, we were actually talking about doing a slacker film. It was still the similar 'Luv (Das), Hardik (Kemmu) and Bunny (Tiwari),' but in the gangster world. They get trapped there and do a comedy there. And I remember, I was in Delhi, and I got a call from Raj, who was in America at that time. And he said, 'Do you have a minute? I'm going to say something to you. Do not react. Think about it.' And I said, 'Yeah, what is it?' So he said, 'You know this film that we're talking about, that we're excited about? Now imagine these guys go there, and they have this party, and they wake up – but it's not gangsters that they're worried about. It's zombies! Something happened that night and when they wake up, they realise everyone's turning into zombies!' And I was like, 'I… I don't have network, let me call you back.'" (laughs) "Then I sat with it and I remember Soha was with me, and I told her, 'Listen, I got this call, and I think it's amazing. But it's so bizarre!' And we had a chat about it. I immediately called him back in twenty minutes and said, 'I am on, but I don't know how anybody else will be on with this.'"
KK: "We had to have somebody like Saif, who was mad enough to [want to do it]. It's so interesting the way things happen. Nobody believed in this. He [Saif] heard this idea and said, 'Really? You want to do a zombie film? Sounds really cool.' And I remember when we went and presented the script to Illuminati Films and Saif to read, it was supposed to be like that meet-and-greet where you say, 'OK, this is the script and in three days we will hear back from you.' And it was so weird: we were all sitting there and he just opened the first page and he said, 'Oh, love the idea, hahaha.' And then he read the entire script with us sitting there! He just finished the whole script, laughing, and we were sitting there for two hours. And he said, 'This is great, we should make this film!' And then we were like, 'And will you play Boris?' And he said, 'Oh yes, I will!' That's how it started.
Saif Ali Khan: "I thought it was funny. And I thought it was different. And I liked the idea of doing a comedy around zombies. There were just some really funny lines in the script. Like when Kunal Kemmu's character says, 'Yaar, ye foreigners ne sub barbaad kar diya. Pehlay lekay aaye HIV, ab yeh zombie.'" (laughs) 'It's a really funny dialogue! And also my character I loved – he's a fake Russian: 'Haan, Delhi say hoon, yaar.' It was just funny, you know, that's it. There's no rocket science. You read it and you say, 'Yeah, this is something that would be great to do.'"
KK: "He was just coming off Love Aaj Kal and Cocktail – how will this big star at this point of time choose to do something which is almost like a cameo in a film like this, which is about the boys? We were like, 'Maybe because he's producing it, maybe he'd be [interested].' But he went so many steps further and he actually dyed his hair blond in Mauritius – and then a year later in Goa, he wore a wig. But he was very excited about it."
SAK: "They do make-up tests and come to your room and he [make-up artist] said, 'Dye your hair blond.' And I don't mind, you know, I quite like that sort of thing. I did it, and it kind of went a little orange, it didn't go blond. That was a mess; then we had to do it again. And I thought it was all going to fall out.
"It was a lovely part; it's completely Raj and DK's, nothing to do with me. There are some parts where I've had some input about how it should look. But they got someone to record the dialogues in a Russian accent; they prepared everything completely – the look, the clothes, the hair. It's a film I produced and I didn't get paid to act in it. That was how we could make the movie. Because nobody really wanted to make it: they thought it was a little too different."
Anand Tiwari: "The dumb charades scene was completely thought of on the go! Because Saif's character, along with his man, were giving us these military signals that we had to follow. And we said that we wouldn't know what those are. So why don't we create a dumb charades of Hindi and English? And that was done right then and there."
Vir Das: "What Raj and DK did very well – it's something that I've taken from the film – is if your characterisation is very strong, then improv becomes a good thing. If your characterisation is not strong, then improv becomes a very dangerous thing and it can end up derailing a scene. So when you have three characters and you characterise them so strongly that they're three different kinds of fun – so those characters would never say the same thing – and then you have three actors who understand what that is, then you can improv, because they're always within that clay mould that these two directors have created for them."
VD: "You know how they make the entrails? They take Maggi and put glue on it and twist it together!"
AT: "And also, Vir, if you remember, every day, whether in Goa or Mauritius, you would have these enthusiastic tourists and juniors who would come and think, 'Oh, we're getting these bikinis and cool clothes to wear. What is this film, Bollywood?' (You know how everybody in the world is excited about Bollywood.) And then they'd be decked up as zombies and they'd be thrilled! They'd be taking photos of each other. Cut to two hours later, they'd be absolutely looking like zombies because they were just tired of all that ketchup and all those noodles on their faces. And it would happen on repeat. So we felt more bad for them than scared of them."
KK: "You know, sometimes, these tourists would just come, and they had seen zombie films and had such good referencing… We would be like, 'Arre yaar, ye to PhD lagta hai zombie ka!' They would [demonstrate what they knew] and be like, 'Do you want this kind or this kind?' And then they would do it so well!"