Interview By: DRISHTI PANDEY
We catch up withRobbie Grewal at his office as his latest film: ‘Romeo Akbar Walter’(RAW) releases. From his past films, this film seems to bean intense subject he has tapped on.Here, he speaks about the motive and strength of the film,commercial aspect in the film amidst much more…
First things first, how did the idea of ‘Romeo Akbar Walter (RAW)’ materialise?
My father was in the Indian Army. Patriotism is in my blood and when my father introduced me to what happened in 1971, considered to be a glorious year for our army intelligence, I was easily drawn to it. Though films have been made on the Indo-Pak war, not enough has been spoken about those faceless, nameless people who provided India its greatest tool in the battlefield. I’ve always wondered, what does a spy get in return of what he orshe does for the nation? A soldier gets martyrdom; we get praise and monetary benefits when we do well. But what do they get? Nothing! Not even a mention in history for doing the most reward-worthy acts. I wanted to get into the psyche of people who do that. That triggered my desire to make ‘RAW’.
How is your scripting process like?
I don’t write with a certain character in my head. I keep it open and that’s how I write it. Honestly, also if you have somebody in your head and you write the film entirely from his perspective, his personality and if the person doesn’t come onboard. What will you do? So I keep it ambiguous and once I finish writing, then I get the clarity of who do I take and who will fit best for the part. And every person of the case was the first choice, there were date issues with Sushant Singh Rajput but thankfully we had John onboard. And I am very, very happy having him now; sometimes date issues work for the best. Now I can’t see anybody except John in this film.
What was the challenge on this film?
I think challenge is in writing the film; when you can write a good film, a good screenplay then it’s not very challenging. The crux of the film is the narrative, the screenplay; which is challenging. So that’s more challenging for me, to do in a film.Filming a script is not that challenging. I mean it is difficult, it is challenging but for me the writing part is what makes the film. For me that was the most challenging thing.
What is that one thing that will connect to the audience with this film?
The end of the film is very simple. I want to celebrate the patriotism of this man who goes to Pakistan and want every Indian to feel proud of this man and his story. And consequentially having pride in their heart for being an Indian as well. ‘RAW’ is the emotion of being an Indian, is my motive and strength of the film.
What’s your take on trends? Doesthat work for film-makers in Hindi cinema?
Years back when I began to write films, there were many ways to launch a film. I didn’t have a plan or a strategy of choosing a particular genre and stick by trends to benefit me in future. I want to tell a story from my heart which I thought and think will resonate with the audience, and I went along with my gut on that. Now-a-days patriotic films are working but I never thought that I will make a realistic, patriotic film because it’s trending or so.
Talking about the evolvement you have seen in Hindi cinema and how important does it get for a film-maker to have a commercial aspect in thefilm?
The biggest difference what I see is – what use to be an offbeat film is commercial now, and that’s the biggest change in Hindi cinema. 15 years back, a film mandatorily had four-five songs but today, there’s no such requirement and the most important aspect is content. People like me generally make films which are real and not larger than life; this is a good time for us. The meaning of content has changed so there is no commercial aspect to it. The new voices work better, newer scripts work well, despite of having songs or not having songs in the film.We can be pure with our voice and that’s a great change, which is fantastic.
How happy are you with the way ‘RAW’ has turned out and what do you take back from it?
I am very happy with the way the film has turned out and it’s exactly what I wanted. What has changed over writing and making this film is that – I have become more involved as an Indian. I know so much more about what had happened in 1971. I have become more patriotic person and that is probably after knowing about these heroes, who risk their lives without any expectations, any reward and yet they serve our country so much. My respect for them is grown tremendously. The true value of a spy is something which I have realized while making the film, why are they so great. Whatever we do, we do it for reward but; theirs is the one selfless job where they know they won’t be getting any reward yet they do it.
What kind of films we will be seeing you make in the future?
I don’t know about the genre, there are few things going in my head but one thing is sure; I will be making films which are real, which are believable.
Irrespective of the subject?
Yes, if it’s a comedy it will be realistic comedy. I would say any story realistically.