Everything you wanted to know about Shamshera

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Ranbir Kapoor plays both father and son in his first dual role in Shamshera. Photo: Yash Raj Films

Yash Raj Films’ Shamshera, a period spectacle set to release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu July 22, is helmed by Karan Malhotra and produced by Aditya Chopra. The film has Ranbir Kapoor in his first dual role, as father and son. It also co-stars Vaani Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt and has music by Mithoon.

“To play two distinctive characters and make them different was very challenging and exciting!” say Ranbir, after the “double” secret was out with the release of the trailer. Ranbir is playing a larger-than-life, quintessential Hindi film hero for the first time in his career. The actor, who is coming to the big screen four years after the blockbuster Sanju, wowed everyone and also caught people by surprise. Fans went into a frenzy because the trailer revealed that Ranbir is playing the father, Shamshera, and the son, Balli, in this revenge spectacle.

Ranbir spills the beans on the fact that he was only approached to play Balli, but he convinced producer Aditya and Karan to trust him with the character of Shamshera too! He says, “When the film was narrated to me, it wasn’t really offered to me as a double role. But when I heard the story, my immediate response was to let me play the father also!”

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He explains, “Because it is such a great role, an interesting, juicy part for an actor to play. Then, I really had to convince Adi and Karan. I think after that Karan did a couple of look tests and that’s when he got convinced. It hooked me thoroughly. They were two unique characters, and for an actor like me to play two distinctive characters and make them different was very challenging and exciting for me.”

The story of Shamshera is set in the fictitious city of Kaza, where a warrior tribe is imprisoned, enslaved and tortured by a ruthless authoritarian general, Shudh Singh, played by Sanjay. This is the story of a slave who became a leader and then a legend for his tribe. He relentlessly fought for his tribe’s freedom and dignity.

The high-octane, adrenaline-pumping entertainer is set in the 1800s in the heartland of India. Sanjay Dutt’s showdown with Ranbir will see them ferociously go after each other with no mercy.

“I really wish that my father was alive to see the film!” says Ranbir, who signed the film when Rishi Kapoor, who would have been happy seeing him play a quintessential Hindi film hero, was alive. Rishi Kapoor always wanted his son to attempt playing a hero who could connect to audiences across the country.

In an aside, let me reveal that Rishi had admitted to me that he did not approve of many of his son’s choices, but never influenced or interfered with them. “My father has always been blatantly honest about his criticism if he has liked something or not liked something, especially with my work. So, it’s sad that he’s not going to watch it. But I am really excited that I got to do a film like this and I hope that somewhere up there he is looking out for me and he is proud of me. He had also advised me, ‘Don’t take success to your head and failure to your heart’ when I chose acting as my profession.”

Ranbir says Shamshera is his attempt to speak to a pan-Indian audience. He says, “I definitely want to grow as an actor and a star and Shamshera definitely is a positive step towards that. What I’ve really understood now after so many years in the industry is do films that appeal to a larger audience. You want to tell stories that different generations of audience can connect to and can get entertained.”

Sanjay Dutt plays the antagonist Shudh Singh in Shamshera. Photo: Yash Raj Films

“It is always exciting to play the antagonist because you get to bend the rules, break the rules!” adds Sanjay Dutt on his menacing villainous turn. Sanjay has delivered some epic villains on screen and he is back to give us a more evil, menacing, merciless, cold-hearted brute. He plays Ranbir’s nemesis in this action entertainer and he has relished every bit of his role.

Sanjay says, “I realized that when you play the antagonist, there are actually no impositions or moral boundaries. You can be disruptive. You can take a character from paper and play it the way you want. I have a lot of fun whenever I play an antagonist and I’m fortunate that people have loved my performances as the nemesis of a hero so far.”

He adds, “Shudh Singh is a character you have never seen on screen. He is just pure evil. He is menacing, he is untrustworthy and he will go to any length to wreak havoc. I loved the fact that Karan created a villain like this and he thought of me to play this role. He gave me a free hand to bring Shudh Singh to life and I hope people like my effort. Yes, I had my suggestions that enhance the character even more. Shuddh Singh is funny and dangerous. Audience should love him!”

Sanjay was thrilled about the casting coup in Shamshera that pitted him against Ranbir, because four years ago the young actor had played him in his biopic, Sanju. “So, Shamshera will be Sanju versus Sanju on screen, which has become a highly anticipated on-screen clash between the two!” he quips, after having played a baddie, Kancha, in Karan’s debut film, Agneepath, a decade ago.

He says, “The on-screen enmity between him and me becomes all the more interesting for people. Ranbir is a brilliant actor but this film sees him in a new gaze. His boyish charm is inimitable, but in this film, he is a man who finds his footing and looks glorious on screen.”

Sanjay says, “Shamshera is a world of its own, the most important thing is that it’s a mass-oriented film, with larger-than-life characters.”

Vaani Kapoor is Sona, cast as Ranbir Kapoor’s love interest in Shamshera. Photo: Yash Raj Films

Vaani Kapoor maintains, “It’s a world that I, as an actor, have never explored. The world excited me because it has drama, entertainment, action, is larger than life and it’s been beautifully shot. Sona is one of the most refreshing characters I have played. She is the most sought-after traveling performer of India in the 1800s. I have always chosen roles where my character pivots the script in a certain direction, and in Shamshera too, Sona plays an important role in building the narrative. I’m thankful to Karan for seeing me in this role. He held my hand at every step of the way and guided me to bring Sona to life.”

About her character, Vaani reveals, “Sona has strong will-power, she’s confident, a go-getter, yet has her own emotional vulnerabilities. It was amazing teaming up with Ranbir Kapoor, a powerhouse of talent. He’s truly a very special actor and my personal favorite.”

 

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