Soham Shah, the debutant director behind Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar's latest production Kaal, loves the jungle and wildlife.
He wanted to highlight the plight of the tiger, which is seriously threatened by poaching and loss of habitat, through a documentary.
The idea for Kaal was born from that.
The director, who has also written the script for Kaal, spoke to News Editor (Entertainment) Syed Firdaus Ashraf about the film and how he managed to get Karan Johar's Dharma Productions used to the sight of blood. Excerpts:
On Karan Johar and Dharma Productions
I must give full credit to Karan Johar for this film because he gave me 200 percent freedom to make it. He never interfered in my work.
I had assisted Karan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham and found that the production controller always needed stuff like the puja thali, sindoor and flowers. So when I asked for 25 litres of blood for a shot in my film, everyone was shocked!
We got all those things that one would never see in Dharma Productions: Tigers, jungles and blood. Everyone in the company liked this experiment as I was making a very different kind of a film.
On shooting real tigers
When the question to choose the tigers came up, we first felt we could make do with computer-generated tigers. But we dropped the idea because it would not have looked real. Karan gave me the freedom to choose how to get tigers. I approached Randy Miller, who provided tigers for the Russell Crowe film Gladiator. He (Miller) provided me with three tigers, Sher Khan, Titan and Tara.
We flew them in to Bangkok and had to do the shooting there, because you don't get permission to shoot with these animals in India.
The best part of the tigers is that they were always out of cages and roaming freely. Everyone on the sets had to convince themselves that the tigers will not harm them. They were given strict instructions on how to behave in front of the tiger. For example, no one could run in front of the tigers.
The only scary incident happened was when Lara Dutta and Esha Deol were standing near the end of a car. The shot was such that the tiger had to roar at them, but we found out that it had lost its cool. The tiger started tearing off the seat of the vehicle, and everyone got very scared! Luckily, nothing went wrong.
On coming up with the concept
I have always been a wildlife lover, and I have been traveling in jungles for many years. I have always wanted to make a documentary on wildlife for National Geographic. Later on, after assisting Karan with K3G, I thought why not make it a film, as wildlife is very neglected in Indian society. I wanted to bring my personal interest to the society, and give them a message.
On fears that this might be Karan Johar's first flop production
I can only say that all of us have given our 100 percent to the film. Ultimately, it is the audiences who decide. They can either like or reject it. I am banking on the fact that people in our country have not seen this kind of a film. It is a clean, entertaining family film and everyone can enjoy it.
I don't want to say that Kaal is a different kind of a film because everyone says the same thing. I will let people decide whether this is different or not. This film is a two hour thriller-adventure. I want to give the audience the feeling that they have spent two hours in the jungle.
I have not put any songs in the film. It was Karan's idea to put songs for the promotion of the film. There is Shah Rukh's song in the beginning of the film and, after the film is over, there is one (more) song.