This is the conversation that transpired:
How did ‘777 Charlie’ happen?
Actually, it’s an interesting story on how things fell into place.
I was not supposed to do the film; some other actor had committed to it. But just when we were about to flag it off, we had a problem with his dates. That actor had to opt out. Around that time, I was doing another film which has been mounted on a mighty canvas. The big extravaganza was having intermittent breaks. ‘777 Charlie’ director, Krianraj K’ asked me if I would get into the lead role. I pondered over is thought and said ‘yes’.
Is it releasing in Hindi?
Yes, and we are planning a simultaneous September release. Let’s see how it goes.
Was it easy to shoot with the dog?
Not really, but I got used to it.
Have you had pet dogs at home?
Not after I passed my 10th. I had three but after they passed away, we never kept any other. So, I had to train myself to be in tune with the dog. We utilised four dogs actually, essentially we used one but when he was tired, we brought the other three into play. We had a portable swimming pool on the set. The dogs, when tired, got into the pool. That’s one way to make the dogs feel fresh.
What do you play in ‘777 Charlie’?
I play someone who is a hardcore recluse who doesn’t intermingle even with his neighbour. A dog enters my life, initially I don’t like him, but circumstances lead to a very strong bond between us.
There’s a producer in you. Weren’t you inclined to give your opinions to the director?
It’s team work. Whenever he needed an opinion, I was always around to give one. But when he was fine, I never interfered and let the final call be his.
How do you manage to be a writer, producer, director and actor?
I generally take breaks if and when I write. I go off from Bangalore to some cosier place and settle down with my laptop. Besides, I have a team that looks after production modalities.
Your films are known for extensive dialogues. Do you think that today’s Bollywood films lack the punch in writing, there are no confrontation scenes unlike the ones we had in the days of Salim-Javed?
Hmmm… well, times have changed in Bollywood. I guess what is being dished out is what the people want. Plus, filmmaking in India is a vast industry that cuts through almost all states. So I guess, there’s a place and audience for everything.
Which Bollywood actors you admire the most?
Back to ‘777 Charlie’, how did you manage to shoot the second half that’s practically outdoors if I am not wrong?
You are right. The second half is quite a bit outdoors and in Kashmir. We got the permission there after the first wave had subsided. We proceeded fast. But think of it, it has still taken us 3 years to complete this film.