Sohail Khan On Making Nawaz Play Golf and Romance Amy Jackson
Sohail Khan talks to The Quint about how the germ of playing golf led to a full fledged ‘Freaky Ali’.
Sohail Khan’s Freaky Ali marks Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s entry into the commercial Bollywood space as a leading man and Khan is ecstatic about the release. The film is special to him and he is calling all his friends to watch it, especially with their kids. “Everyone has contributed in the film and feels like it is their film. It started like a underdog and today it is appreciated and people are curious about it. It has created its own small path, ” says Sohail. We meet the man in his office over brewing cuppas and discuss why Ali is such a freak.
Q: How did the germ of making a film like Freaky Ali come into play with Nawazuddin Siddiqui?
Sohail Khan: I remember meeting Nawaz bhai during Kick and I became a big fan of his. You know, I just took a chance. My sister and brother were in Manali and were heading to Kashmir to shoot that climax scene of Bajrangi Bhaijaan. I was like, ‘if you guys are there, I’ll come as I have to narrate something to Nawaz bhai.’ That time I just had a line in mind about Freaky Ali and I thought if he likes the idea then I would come back and work on it.
I genuinely believe that if you have somebody in mind while writing, it turns out better as you start writing according to him. I called him and told him that I am here and we would meet up after dinner. I was expecting him to come to Bhai’s room because all of us usually chill there. Later after hours when I sent a message to him as it was getting extremely late I was told, ‘Nawaz bhai toh so gaye…’ (Laughs).
Q: How did you manage it as in everyone’s head golf is a pretentious game for the elite?
Sohail Khan: Exactly, you hit the nail on the head. This is exactly what inspired me. I was like let’s bring this Gangs Of Wasseypur kind of guy to the elite people. What will happen when they would cross ways. Beside films, the only thing I know is a little bit of sports. I encourage all kinds of sport and we have our own CCL team as well.
I had gone to a golf course a couple of years back in Delhi and even I thought it to be a boring game. There is nothing to do in it, you hit the ball and walk and keep doing that for hours. What is the big deal about putting the ball in the hole? But when you play the game, you realise that it is such a wonderful game.
Firstly, the greens around you would take all your stress away. This game is a form of yoga because there is focus, concentration, patience… you also end up walking 4-5 kms which is a great workout. Let me also tell you that it is a damn difficult game and that time I realised that it is completely different from what me and others think of this game. If I can get a misfit in this game, how much fun we can have. I also wanted it to be an inspirational story.
I only had a thought and Raj Shandilya (writer) helped me the most, who I met when I was judging Comedy Circus. A film like this needed that spark which Raj brought. Fortunately, my first choice of actors was my last choice. I told them about playing on the front foot with this film and mount it as big as we can. We planned the film for 60 days and finished it in 40. Can you believe it?
Q: Were you apprehensive even for a second as Nawazuddin has a filmography which is very intense in comparison to such a light hearted film?
I always felt that he had a funny bone in him. I felt that if you give him something comical to do, he will be superb. I never thought of him as a guy who is dark from the land of Wasseypur or Raman Raghav. According to me, he was very endearing in those films because somewhere down the line you feel that he is not this person but a great actor.
Actually, he is very far from all these things. In fact, he is shy, timid and keeps away from any kind of violence and does not have any mean streak in him. While the narration was going on, I could see him play this part. The way I was seeing the film, he was seeing it the same way. He is a great actor and is very charming. If you see the romantic scenes, he has his way with words and is very endearing.
Q: While making a film, are you very particular or are you open to suggestions from everyone around?
Sohail Khan: I am very open, I feel you hire experts because of who they are. If a cameraman comes to me and tells me that lets shoot this scene in the morning light because of so and so reasons, I will respect it. If the editor tells me to shoot it in a way that can be played out later while editing, I will respect that too. These are things to learn and improve your technicalities on the set.
Same with the actor but all you need to keep in mind is that the previous, the current and the latter scene happens in the same synergy. Sometimes what happens with actors is that they don’t remember the previous scene and treat the new scene as an individual scene. That you need to monitor because the film has a certain tone.
I respect a lot of these boys like Nawaz, Ranveer (Singh), Ranbir (Kapoor), Varun (Dhawan), Shahid (Kapoor) who do one film at a time. They know that they can stay in that character while doing one film and can pick it up from where they left. All of them are doing some great work because you cannot do seven films together, it messes with your head.
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