With the release of 1920 London earlier this year & now Rustom, Tinu Suresh Desai is another rising director to join the Bollywood bandwagon. He talks to Sangeeta Yadav about the making of Rustom
- How did you come up with an idea to make a film inspired by the KM Nanavati case?
Honestly, I wasn’t much aware of this case. It was the scriptwriter Vipul K Rawal who initiated the idea of Rustom. When I read it, I was engrossed. Producer Neeraj Pandey and Shital Bhatia locked the script immediately. We collectively worked on the script and within a month, we kicked off.
- Was it difficult to direct Akshay Kumar as Commander Rustom Pavri?
Not at all! Akshay is a very convincing and good actor who knows his job. As an actor/producer, he supported me a lot. He was always joking around on the sets. But when he got into the uniform, he was a different person altogether. From his way of taking to behaving with others, his aura and personality were so real, like a Navy officer.
- How much have you fictionalised the real case?
We’ve just taken the plot of the Navy officer SM Nanavati (played by Akshay) who shot his wife’s boyfriend Prem Ahuja (played by Arjun Bajwa). Rustom is more than just the Nanavati case. Every character in the film is strong and has a story to tell. It’s a commercial film which has all the emotions, love story, mystery, controversy, comedy and patriotism. It is a suspense thriller which, I hope, the audience will love.
- How did you recreate the 1959 era?
The credit goes to our VFX team, MFS, who left no stone unturned to reflect the 1959-60s. They did a lot of research. We’ve shown Flora Fountain and Marine drive and recreated the taxi stand and tram station. We’ve tried to make it realistic and show a new Mumbai which has not been visualised by other filmmakers in their films.
- Being a new director, were you overawed about making such a big film?
It never felt like a new director. I got so much support from the cast and crew that everything went off smoothly. Handling such a big starcast was new to me and making a realistic period drama an uphill task. Be it production designer Priya Suhas, costume designer Ameira Punwani or DoP Santosh Thundiyill, I gave all of them a free hand in deciding what they thought of how the film should look like. They read the script, conceptualised everything and after a long discussion, we locked things. The biggest plus was we all were on the same page.
- What was the challenge?
We had to show the Warship scene of 1950s and the dockyard of Mumbai which was difficult to do in India. We found out that London has a warship of 1960s and our production designer Indianised it and recreated the Mumbai dockyard there. To shoot in a warship, you have to finish everything within a time frame, so we were on our toes. So far, no movie has shown how Mumbai dockyards looked like. We have.
- Any scene which took a lot of retakes?
There is a scene which we had shot in a single shot where six characters come in for interrogations in a small room. This took many retakes as all the six artists had to sit and wait for their turn for the scene. It was like musical chairs. We had to show the transition of interrogation being taking place from morning till evening.
- Is there a message in the film?
The subject is bold in itself. In today’s time, if you get to know that your wife is having an extra-marital affair, it’s very difficult for the husband to accept the fact and her. Married couples are getting separated over petty issues. But after watching this film, the audience may realise that no matter how serious the situation, partners have to support each other and be their pillar of strength.
(The article also got published in The Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/backpack/akshays-a-different-person-in-uniform.html)