Can you elaborate on the role of the action directors in Gadar 2, and why were there multiple directors for the action sequences?
Let me clear it first that there were four action directors on Gadar 2. The handpump sequence is done by me. The reason for having multiple action directors was that most of the shooting of the film happened as per the permissions from the Indian Army. The permissions came from Delhi so the shooting was scheduled according to the permissions.
Tell us about the thought process behind the handpump sequence and how you executed it differently from the first film.
We thought that if we put action in that sequence then it might look like a repetition of the sequence in the first film. We thought of designing it in such a way that there would not be much action yet the handpump would get uprooted from the ground. So, how to shoot the sequence? I visualized that from the looks of the crowd it should look like somebody even bigger than Sunny Deol has appeared behind him. So, the crowd stopped, scared. Then Sunny paaji gave a look. Then we revealed the handpump and the moment Sunny paaji reached the handpump, the crowd would disperse. This was done so that the audience could recollect the original scene from Gadar and the new scene could still maintain its value.
You also worked on the scene where the father and son get separated. Can you share some insights into how you made it believable?
The key thing about that scene was to make it believable. Why would the father let his son get separated since the story is about the father saving his son? The audience should feel like the father really missed a chance to save his son. When the rocket launcher is fired, Sunny pushes Utkarsh Sharma and he falls into a moving train compartment. By the time Sunny can get back onto his feet, the train has gone far away. There was a lot of planning that went on behind that scene. We shot that scene in a village in Ahmednagar. We had to make sure that the village life and commute were not disturbed. Also, we had to be sure that the bridge on which we made the blast happen should not get damaged. We had to be mindful of the safety of the people as well. The train also had to pass at the same time. So, yes, a lot of things had to be pre-planned.
Can you share your experience of working with Sunny Deol on the action sequences?
All his action sequences were done by Sunny himself. I had great fun working with Sunny Deol. He was very cool and calm off the set but as soon as the camera rolled, he became Tara Singh.
I had recently done a film with Sunny Deol and he liked my work so he called me for his next. With Anil Sharma, I had done Maharaja. I was going to do his son’s debut film but due to some reasons, I couldn’t do it. I will be doing his next film, which he will announce soon.
Could you tell us more about the iconic handpump scene and its significance in Gadar 2?
Doing direct action is easy. It’s difficult to show action without showcasing elaborate stunts. Because one wrong shot can mess up the entire scene.
Gadar 2 is a result of director Anil Sharma’s conviction and the way Sunny Deol has carried himself. Film se ‘desipan’ ki khushboo aa rahi hai. The demand of the story was that it had to be rooted in our soil. And it was a simple film made with local technicians. And perhaps that touched the people in a way.
Sunny Deol doesn’t do much before doing action. He listens to everything calmly and understands the need of the shot. He composes his energy quietly and the moment the camera rolls he turns into a different person.
The handpump is an iconic prop in the Gadar franchise. If it hadn’t been in the sequel it would be missed by the fans.
How do you handle the use of explosives in today’s times for the action sequences?
I also did some action in the Army cantonments. The explosives are make-believe. There’s a specialized expert team who have licenses to use explosives for the shoot. Sometimes, the explosion is enhanced using VFX. The shot of Utkarsh Sharma jumping off because of the blast was filmed separately and the blast was filmed separately. The actor’s safety is important but, in the scene, it should look like he’s in the middle of a blast. We do the wide shots mostly with the body doubles even if the actor is willing to do it on his own. If the actor’s face is not going to be visible then why make him do it and put him at risk?