You have being making this film since 4-5 years; why the delay on Madras Cafe?
This is a difficult script to make it and a difficult subject for me. But yes we had being learning the subject since long time. It took a long time to prepare the script because we were not satisfied with the script. The script keep changing, the draft keep changing. And I will be changing it till it goes final takes. For example at some point actor Prosenjit was suppose to act. What script I gave him the next time it was different so we decided to work out in smoothing else later. Delay because shoe byte did not released and I was depressed and down. While me and John were discussing the film Vicky Donor idea came so the script was ready and I have not done anything so I decided to do it quickly. After Vicky Donor the script was ready and I was happy with it. So that's how the film came up with. Earlier the film name was named Jaffna. When working for the film we decided to keep Madras Cafe which is a key plot in the film even in the trailer we have shown that. Earlier we were concern that John is there so people should not mistake it as romantic film. But now trailer is out and people now know it is a serious film.
Was John and Nargis always on your mind for the film?
Since begin only John was there in the film. Nargis was never in my mind but I knew Nargis much before rock star. Actually I only introduced Nargis to the film industry because I did one commercial with her. Then Imtiaz picked her up. Though he received lot of criticism but this film will be a re-launch of Nargis Fakhri. In the trailer she is looking very straight and stunning. She will be absolutely new find for all of you.
There were reports of model Shital Malhar have being cast? How true it is?
We were in talks but Shital wasn't sure that she wants to act or not. Then Nargis came in my mind. I needed a foreign journalist because she is much fitted in the role. She is playing a war journalist. There is a line of her in the film "criticising a national policy doesn't make me international". This is my line and the film is based upon this.
Is it true that real RAW agents worked in the film?
This is wrong news. John thought it was like that but he didn't have the complete information on that. John later realise that this was wrong and he clarified it in the PC. The film is completely researched by me and my team. Credit goes to my two writers Somnath Dey and Subendu Bhattacharya. My script is the hero of the film. On the search is from the net. There are books on RAW agents that you can get. All RAW front, intelligence front and political front is all available on public forum and we made into a film. No RAW agents acted in the film. RAW agents cannot work in the films it is against a protocol. Everybody is a fresh casting. You will find number of debutants in the film. Casting is one thing which you have to look for in the film.
The cinematography of the film is very different at the same time beautiful. Elaborate about it.
It is from very different location which nobody has seen. We never shot in Sri Lanka. Everything is recreated in India. That the quality of an ad filmmaker.
We have seen RAW agents in Bollywood films. So how different this RAW agent will be?
This is the realistic RAW agents. He won't be jumping off the bike doing something of that sort. This is the first time in India this genre were you will come to know how the real RAW agents work.
John is said to be underrated actor; still you casted him in a very serious drama?
This question will not be raised after this film. Every person has acting ability; it depends how you use it. My Vicky Donor was purely actor and characters. I don't leave actor. I suck their blood and I make them act. I don't know how I do it but I manage. After this film whatever critical approach you have for John and Nargis it will change. That I can assure you in written format.
In August lot of big films releasing. Do you fear box office collection part?
There is no point fearing because I think we are making 100 films in 52 weeks. So there is no point of fearing. People have decided to watch movie then they will go and watch. Last year they have shown the trend. All the out of the box film did as good as regular masala films. There is an audience who want to see good cinema which is opening up and which is good for the industry and which is good for filmmakers like us. Chennai Express kind of films which are running since we were kids will stay but with them this kind of films will also work.
It is a serious political thriller; so what is the scope of music?
Background score is there. There are not many songs because a RAW agent doesn't sing songs behind trees. But there is background score. I am collaborating with Shantanu as well. There are 3-4 songs in it which are really path breaking for Shantanu because it was completely new for him and he played the genre. One song is sung by Zen from Pakistan and 2 sung by Papon.
Is there any particular reason of taking Pakistani singer Zen?
I always wanted to work. I wanted him to sing in Vicky Donor but visa was the hindrance. But this time we worked.
Any theme you have added for commercial reason?
I haven't compromise anything for commercialism. This film does not deserve or demand such things. Even to the marketing people I have said that don't do it anything which take away the seriousness of the subject for marketing. We are talking about people who are suffering. We are talking about the people who have suffered. So we should not take undue advantage of the film to make gimmick of it. So we have not. Yes the film is a thriller not a documentary. But still it is a new genre which I have tried.
For the research purpose have you visited Sri Lanka?
I have not visited Sri Lanka. I had visited long back. Nobody can go because there was civil war happening at that time. Now people are going but I had the fair idea about it.
Are you concern about 100 cr post Vicky Donor?
I don't know about this 100 cr but I know there is an audience for the film like Barfi which have no dialogs, I know there is an audience for a pregnant woman who was running around a city for the search for her husband. Business is very subjective thing. It is good that people want to see good entertaining film. I hope film should do well and if it does then it is a bonus for us.
Did Ayushmanm also assist you in the film?
He assisted in madras cafe for 4-5 days in Chennai.
Are you bothered about expectations of the audience?
I don't have any. Even if they don't like it is okay. I still know how to make a film. I am not bothered because if I get bothered I can't make films then. I have to make many films I have queue of stories to be made. I have at least 10 stories for next 2-3 year which I have to make it. I am honestly making a film and I believed there is an audience to appreciate my honest effort.