Why Italian Job?
This cult Hollywood flick of 1969 starring Michael Caine became our favourite since we first saw in our school days. The reason it was different from its league, all about a gold heist, the Minis, creating traffic jams, everything was so entertaining that we liked it. Again in 2003 it was made again this time the double cross angle was added and it gave a twist to the story.
Our partners, the Viacom 18 came up with the idea. Since Paramount Pictures is the sister company of Viacom they said we can easily get the rights of this film if you would want to try and adapt it. We started working on the script of the 2003 one. We came up with the adaptation and we told them to get the rights and we can start the film.
So what changes have you made for the Indian Edition?
The challenge was to update the story of the gold heist, the Minis again, how they double cross each other and how they take back the gold, and we did take those parts into this time, but we had to completely change the entire script because we have done the adaptation to fit the Indian sensibilities.
Like the heist takes place in travelling train surrounded by snow clad mountains. There have been a lot of Hollywood and European films that have been shot in Russian, but no one has shot in the North Pole. Even the Russian crew, they shot for the first time over there.
The North Pole experience
It was a very different experience not only for us, but as well for the actors. Because they have been staying in luxurious 5-star hotels and travelling in style, but it was a small town and a very small hotel: 8x8 rooms and a small bed. It really was an experience that no one had had before, but they were very excited and enjoyed and loved it. It was a lifetime experience working like that.
What was the reaction from people in Russia?
Unbelievable! We all know that Raj Kapoor is highly popular their but to our pleasant surprise Bollywood has a strong following there. Mithun Chakraboty is also popular. The Russian media was excited to meet Abhisek Bachchan the son of Mr. Amitabh Bachchan. It was an overwhelming experience.
What made you choose Abhishek for the role of Charlie?
Players is all style, attitude, action and we needed someone with a charming personality, strong voice to do justice to the role and the actor should be doing it for the first time. After watching Abhishek Bachchan movies, we felt he is suitable for the role and we are glad that Abhishek has performed as per our expectations.
So will Players add to the popularity of Abhishek as it happened with SRK and Akshay Kumar who got their nicknames Badshah and Khiladi after acting in your films having the same title?
Well that’s up to the audience... What we can say is the role suited Abhishek Bachchan and he is the player in Players like SRK is Badshah in Baadshah and Akshay is Khiladi in Khiladi.
You have bagged Abhishek Bachchan… is Big B next?
Oh... We hope it happens. It will be a dream comes true. Mr. Bachchan is such a legend. We have grown up watching his films.
How you define Abhishek as an actor?
A director’s actor. He really is a joy to work with. Jolly nature, never tired and of course hardworking. Tremendous passion for work particularly in this film, because he was something different, something new.
What about Bobby Deol, your favourite?
Bobby is close to us as he is with us since Soldier. He plays a very pivotal role of a magician in the film. He didn’t even bother to hear the script since we were doing the film.
What challenges you faced while shooting?
We really did a lot of pre-production work because we knew that if we are making this film we are presenting a very big scale film. First off the challenge was that in the first one the gold heist was shot in Venice, in the canals. So, the first thing we changed was the location and we thought of doing something different, which the audience has never seen before. We converted into a train heist and the train is entirely moving through snow-clad mountains, the gold is on that train and it is about how the team of these Players comes and robs the gold in this heist. We went to the North Pole and Russia for this. We shot the entire train scenes in the North Pole and St. Petersburg, Russia.
Language was a problem everything was translated to the Russian crew and due to this many times we missed the shot as both the trains where required to come at one level in opposite direction at a particular speed to complete the heist.
Why only thrillers, suspense?
9 out of 10 times we are approached for that only..... We did Chori Chori Chupke Chupke with Salman, Preity and Rani... Still we are mostly offered thrillers......
Which is the movie that you dream to make one day?
La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful) by Roberto Benigni.
So how beautiful is Players to make audience fall in love?
A fast paced thriller that will keep the audience glued to their seats. Emotional connect. We have tried to make the audience fall in love with guaranteed twists, turns, and suspense.