What role is Ajay Devgan portraying in the film? What made you opt for Ajay?
Ajay Devgan is playing an actor in the film who moves from being a reel-life hero to a man whose reality gets lost in the mire of his roles and how he grows to become a hero in the real sense. Ajay is very versatile. He has the ability to portray this part realistically. The character required no stylized performance or a put on. I wanted to depict the star in a candid manner. I expected Ajay to do justice to the character and that is exactly what he has done.
How do you manage to extract such good performances from your actors?
Ajay Devgan is a very good actor. Unfortunately, his talent has not been tapped enough by mainstream films. It is quite thrilling to see his histrionics slowly open up in layers, film by film. He is a star performer on Indian celluloid.
And Vidya? Tell us about her casting….
Her role is very important. Vidya's character goes through the trauma that every star wife goes through. Her character moves from being the girl next door who loves a struggling actor to becoming the love of his life to adjusting herself to the life of a star wife and coping with the trauma. Vidya has truly brought out the essence of the character and has beautifully complimented Ajay's character with her performance.
How was it possible to make a film in 75 days- two schedules with stars and that too, in over 65 locations?
That speaks for the efficiency of the production team. We planned well, so shot well.
Tell us more about Pankaj Kapoor's character.
Pankaj Kapoor had grown a beard for three months to look genuine for his character in the film. I had earlier worked with Pankaj when I was working with Govind Nihalani. I have immense respect as an actor for him. I had him in my mind for this role in the film and he has performed so well. He plays a reformed dacoit who is into street theatre and does issue-based plays. It is in his troupe that Ajay Devgan starts his career as an actor.
Sukhwinder Singh sings Gurbani for the first time for "HALLA BOL'. Tell us something about this sequence.
Sukhwinder's Gurbani was very important. Pankaj Kapoor plays a sardar and there was a very important sequence to be shot in a Gurudwara. I asked Sukhwinder to sing it and he sang the song with a lot of feeling. He is also a Punjabi and he sang it very beautifully.
What kind of films can we expect from Rajkumar Santoshi in the near future?
I have never been the type to follow trends. For example, I made 'Ghayal' when mostly musicals were being churned out. Even 'Andaaz Apna Apna' did not follow any trend. I had made 'Damini' which showed that justice delayed is justice denied. I have always followed my heart, instinct and conscience and made movies. At this point of time, I am awaiting the response to 'HALLA BOL' which I have made with great love and affection.