Aishwarya in Sanjay Gupta’s Jazbaa

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Sanjay Gupta reveals Abhishek Bachchan’s crucial role in bringing Aishwarya on board for his upcoming thriller.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will start shooting her comeback film Jazbaa in Mumbai from January 2015. This will be the actress’ return to the arc lights after a four-year sabbatical and Mirror has it that hubby Abhishek Bachchan played a pivotal role in her taking up the movie.

The film’s director, Sanjay Gupta, and Abhishek had wanted to collaborate on a project for a long time and often spoke about the same. During one such chat, Gupta told Abhishek about the rights of a foreign film (the name of which the filmmaker is reluctant to divulge) he had bought.

Says Gupta, “Abhishek loved the story and wanted to know who I had in mind for the female lead. I told him, ‘It would be great if Aishwarya could do it’. To my surprise, he asked for the film’s copy.”

A week later, Abhishek called Gupta and confirmed that Ash is on board. “Aishwarya too spoke to me. Subsequently, I visited their home to discuss the details,” says Gupta.

Next, Aishwarya announced the film at the Cannes Film Festival. “And then, I announced it here. Now, my next task was to cast the male lead,” says Gupta. On his way to the Bachchan’s bungalow for a second meeting, Gupta had two actors in mind Arjun Rampal and Irrfan Khan. “I discussed it with Aishwarya. We could either go the Arjun way or the Irrfan way. Aishwarya liked the idea of casting the latter.”

While Gupta was on his way back home, his co-producer Rafi Kazi informed Irrfan about the project and the excited actor reached the director’s home in the next hour. “He wanted to know what I had in mind for him,” recalls Gupta.

Irrfan wanted to read the script before signing on the dotted line, and make sure he had a meaty part. “The film revolves around four characters. Irrfan plays a suspended cop, a loose cannon. He has always been an understated actor and for the first time he will be playing to the gallery,” says Gupta.

So does Aishwarya’s character fall for his one-liners? “Aishwarya plays a lawyer. The film will not depict any romance between the two but culminates on a note where you get a feeling that Aishwarya and Irrfan’s equation might develop into a relationship later,” explains the director.

And then comes John Abraham, who has an extended cameo in the film.

“But we are still looking for someone to play a fourth character. We need a senior actress who is a volcano of talent,” says the excited director.

All efforts to coax the name of the original film out of Gupta fail, but he elaborates, “Jazbaa is an edge-of-the-seat thriller. I have a two-way contract with the company from whom I have bought the rights. They too are not supposed to divulge the fact that they have sold the rights of the film to me. How can I violate the contract?”

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20 Responses to “Aishwarya in Sanjay Gupta’s Jazbaa”

  1. While this is certainly not going to be a Chokher Bali or Raincoat, I don’t think this is a bad choice by Aish. Sanjay Gupta almost rips-off these Hollywood/Asian thrillers, but almost always makes very enngaging and entertaining films- Kaante still looks very cool (and man, the dialogues!), I enjoyed Musafir (and I actually don’t think that it is much worse than U-Turn), Zinda is perfectly alright with a fine Dutt performance, Shootout at Wadala, inspite of some poor casting choices, wasn’t bad either, and while Gupta’s Aatish might not look as slick and stylish as it once did (I haven’t seen it in ages) I still think it’s his best work- its action scenes were way ahead of its times (BTW quite a few of the shots and action scenes were informed by the aesthetics of Mukul Anand). The turkeys are Hamesha, Ramshastra and Jung. Also Gupta is the only contemporary Bollywood director who knows to do Hollywoodised shootout and action scenes properly- the rest of the folks just do a very slip-shot job on thus score. We just saw how mediocre was Dhoom 3 in this regard (infact Gupta should be the go-to guy for these stunt thrillers).

    Not sure if anyone remembers, but there was a very nice bike-song in Aatish (picturised on Atul Agnihotri and Karishma).

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    • And while I like Irrfan a lot, I wish we had Dutt opposite Aish here- I loved their ‘incongruous’ pairing in the criminally underrated Shabd.

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    • They’re probably looking for a female-centric film that has enough of a serious narrative to it and that can do minimally well. A combination of commercial and critical acclaim. Still it’s an unusual way to start off given some of the other options. I must say though that the whole Ratnam thing is thrown into some doubt now. There have been some rumors anyway (Nagarjuna saying the film wasn’t on, Mahesh Babu saying the opposite, all kinds of cast rumors). Either that film is starting much later or it’s a different film altogether because I’m quite certain Aishwarya would never refuse Ratnam irrespective of anything else.

      On Gupta I’d have a far less generous take on him than you (did like Kaante and Musafir) but he certainly doesn’t often have the narrative that can attract anything close to a universal audience. It probably matters less for this kind of film but more often than not he just ‘borrows’ the idea (to be kind about it). I actually think Irrfan being here is a good idea. Don’t disagree on the Shabd pairing or the film but Irrfan will bring some much needed gravitas to Gupta’s world. With a good director he and Aishwarya could be played off against each other in interesting ways. Of course whether Gupta is the director to be able to manage this is another question!

      Lastly wonder what movie Gupta is using this time.

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      • I am taking a guess here, but considering Gupta had already filched a S. Korean film earlier ( Oldboy-Zinda) it might just turn out to be this one- http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Days_(film)

        On Gupta, what I meant was that he can make quite entertaining films (on a good day). Is this a low bar? Yes, but I am not sure there are two many folks in Bollywood who are better than Gupta (in the context of the genre in which Gupta operates).

        I think Rathnam has dropped that earlier film altogether (the Nag, Aish, Mahesh Babu one)- there are rumours of this being a more youth-centric romance (Alaipayuthey kinda deal) and the names of Dulquer Salman and Alia Bhatt are being tossed around. From the looks of it, Rathnam might be going for hit here. He needs one desperately at this point of it. What he also needs is to regain a bit of prestige as a filmmaker after the last 2 debacles.

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        • And Jazbaa might take quite a bit of time to start (January seems too early) since Gupta is apparently doing Mumbai Saga (another of those underworld films- multistarrer with John, Anil Kapoor etc) first whose casting hasn’t even been completed.

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        • I actually loved his Hamesha too…He has no ounce of originality in him but to give credit where it is due he is an excellent copier..

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        • yes although the Raavanan was average/above average (mostly because of the opening though the critical reception was also decent or better) he got with Kadal what he did with Raavan in terms of hysteria. Perhaps things had been building up to this point because as I tried to tell people over the years most of his key films in Tamil did not work once he made a certain auteurist turn (or follow this logic.. which actually highlights his integrity as a filmmaker even if the ‘mob’ doesn’t care to understand). This includes even a film with Rajni. All of his ambitious films failed at some level or the other. By the way even in Hindi Guru was designed to work. So when he has that explicit aim he still does quite well. But Kadal though he must have hoped for more here isn’t an easy film like Alaipayuthey or Roja (not saying I prefer it to the former… though I like it more than the latter.. which along with Geetanjali is the Ratnam film I like least). Perhaps he’s moved too far in a certain direction to be able to do this but in any case he certainly needs a commercial shot in the arm.

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        • Yea, it does seem like Seven Days. A disposable movie, lasts just for a single watch. ARB was pretty sure her comeback movie would be a Ratnam one but his flipping out for one reason or the other seems to have been a setback for her. Wonder if there are any other films that she has been offered or this is the only one and hence she took it up.
          Sriram Raghavan had something in mind with her and John Abraham. Happy Birthday was it? That would have been a much better choice , if still live, that is.

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          • ARB turned down HNY, Gowariker’s film with HR and Sriram’s film. So don’t think she’s counting on a certain film for a comeback.
            She simply wants to do a substantial role.

            btw, long time since posting here but it had to do with Ash so had to. haha

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          • Oh. Did she refuse these. I thought Ratnam was the only director who wanted to cast her. Until Gupta suddenly came into the scene.

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        • Has ARB ever spoken about Jazba? Confirmed it? Seems like ARB is bidding her time. For Ratnam. That door isn’t completely shut yet, with no confirmation from him as yet. If he decides to make with her, she will make a run for it first.

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        • I saw Oldboy last night, the Hollywood version. Interestingly the first thing I thought to myself was “how cool would this be in Bollywood” and then I read it’s been done in Zinda.
          Anyway, I did like the film, bizarre at times and saw the end come from a mile away.

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  2. Aatish rocked! Fast-paced and underrated action-packed flick. I really loved the action sequences.

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  3. Aatish was ok. Completely inspired from John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow. Woo’s movie is a classic in its genre. Chow Yun Fat became a superstar after its release. Pancholi played his part in Gupta’s version.

    Aatish was a good movie for that time. But Gupta’s merits as a director are questionable. He lifted many scenes from Woo’s movie. And then tried to enhance his product by lifting soundtrack themes from Terminator, Ridley Scott’s Christopher Columbus, Total Recall etc..

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    • yes he’s never original. Musafir might be the film I’ve enjoyed most from him but also liked Kaante. And on that note Jazbaa isn’t original either.

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  4. I do still think Aatish remains his best effort. Though very much inspired and copied from Woo’s movie. I remember there was a scene in A Better Tomorrow where Ti Lung, after coming out of jail, re-unites with his old friend (Chow Yun Fat). It was a touching scene. Gupta literally lifted it in Aatish. I think he tried to stay true to the original movie while adding songs and the usual Indian ingredients.

    It still was a sincere effort from Gupta, despite the fact that the best things from the movie were not inspirations of his own.

    There was quite some hype around Aatish. There were huge expectations before its release. It also had a lavish mahurat, marked by Bachan (in one rare public appearance during his temporary retirement phase) launching the first shot.

    It could have had a better impact at the BO, had Sanjay Dutt’s arrest not dampened its prospects.

    After that, Kaante was ok, but a pale copy of Reservoir Dogs. Musafir was a tame copy of U- Turn. Ram Shastra, Hamesha, Khauff and Jung were poor. Shoot-out at Wadala was disastrous.

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