Vishnuvardhan’s Hindi debut, Shershaah starring Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani, released today on Amazon Prime Video. The director speaks about how he became a part of the project, why he takes time between his films, and the script he was working on for Ajith’s Billa 2, in this interview with Baradwaj Rangan. Edited Excerpts…
You weren’t able to do Ajith’s Billa 2 because you were busy with Pawan Kalyan’s Panjaa. Weren’t you able to accommodate both of them?
There was a huge time clash between the two films. It’s not like I refused or Ajith sir didn’t want me on board. Billa 2 was supposed to start a bit later after I had finished Panjaa. But there was a huge clash. That was the only reason.
I’m curious what your script for Billa 2 was like?
My script was completely different from what was eventually made as Billa 2. The concept would be the same. When I announced Billa 2, everyone thought it would be similar to Farhan Akthar’s Don 2. I even remember having a phone conversation with him. Don 2 started where Don ended. My story went back before Billa, to how it all began. My version was about who Jagdish was, and how Prabhu sir became a threat and how the two are related.
So, the film was about how David Billa became who he is, why he doesn’t trust women, etc. I hadn’t finished the script, though. I had the entire idea of the film and was in the process of drafting it.
You made Yatchan in 2015 and now you have Shershaah in 2021. Did the failure of Yatchan affect you a lot?
It didn’t affect me at all, I know there are 2-3 films in my career that are average. That’s the issue. It’s pretty much what’s going to excite you. All my films have been spaced out. So, I had two films that I was supposed to start: a film with Kamal [Haasan] and another Telugu film (which wasn’t announced). That’s when Shershaah happened. Sandeep Srivastava and I were writing a script for Kamal. He was also researching Shershaah and we used to discuss it as friends.
Shabbir Boxwala [one of the film’s producers] asked me why I shouldn’t direct the film if I was interested in the script. Then we met Karan Johar and Dharma Productions came on board. He was very excited. I’ve never done a biopic and I wanted to explore it. As I did the research for the film, I even wanted to make a series out of it—it’s that big.
What are you working on next? Do you have any plans?
I don’t go with a plan. Then I’d have lined films up already. I don’t want to bind myself to that. It’s never bothered me when people say I’ve disappeared for a bit. I will even come back and make a film after 20 years. I’ve never been insecure or worried about anything in my life. What excites me and makes me happy, I’ve always explored that in life.
You mentioned that you worked on a script for Kamal Haasan. What was that about?
We were supposed to work together. But he was busy and couldn’t give dates. After Yatchan, we decided to work together again. But his focus shifted to politics.