Director Ali Abbas Zafar’s action thriller Tiger Zinda Hai released to much fanfare last year, eventually becoming the 10th highest grossing Indian film worldwide. One of the pivotal scenes in the movie, a sequel to his 2012 film Ek Tha Tiger, features lead actor Salman Khan fighting off a pack of menacing wolves in the snowy Austrian mountains. In the scene, he protects his young son from the hungry wolves, without harming any of the animals. In our new episode of Inside A Scene, Ali tells us about the grueling work that went into getting those few minutes of footage, gaining the wolves’ trust, and working with an eccentric animal trainer.
On How Hollywood Inspired Him
We were doing research and in the middle, this great film came called The Revenant with Leonardo DiCaprio, were he was interacting with a wild bear, which was completely CGI, but it kind of gave me a hope that if we can achieve something which is half as good as what they did, it would be a visual spectacle for Indian audiences.
On Getting Up Close With The Animals
There are these two companies one in Canada and one in Hungary, Budapest – they specially train animals for films. They train wild animals. Me and the action director, we flew to Budapest to meet this mad guy called Zoltan, who himself looks like a wild beast because he’s only staying 24×7 with animals. The day we landed there was heavy snowfall. That was our first interaction with wolves. He said, “I will only do the film if you walk with me straight into the cage of these wild animals”. We were given these shoes and he just opened the cage with some 36 wolves, out of which one was an aggressive alpha.
He said, “Start interacting with them. Just don’t keep your hands in your pocket because they will think you are hiding something”. We were there for a good 45 minutes. They were definitely angry wolves.
On Driving His Editor Crazy
We had 42 hours of footage of wild wolves, out of which we made a six-and-a-half minute action sequence. Our editor Rameshwar went mad because he had no idea. So I kept telling him, “Rameshwar, there is one expression of wolf, which is definitely there, because I’ve rolled it.” And out of 48 hours, he had to find that one expression and a lot of expressions like that.
On How A Key Shot Was Acheived
The shot in which he [the wolf] jumps on Salman (Khan), there is a patch of meat which we can’t see. The camera is on the right shoulder. So when the wolf takes off from the log and is coming towards Salman, he is actually going towards that meat.
Watch the full video here: