How important is Madras Cafe for you?
More than the film just being important for me, I believed that it is a very important story which must be told. We have been getting some amazing responses so far. I have personally received calls from other filmmakers who have been kind enough to say that the film looks international. Yes, it has a look, feel and pace of a Hollywood film but at heart it is very Indian. This is our (Shoojit and I) style of filmmaking and as co-producers we connect. We want to present a film which we believe is very honest in the most humble possible manner to our audience.
One can't do away with Hollywood references though. After all, there is a stark resemblance with Body of Lies?
It is interesting that you are saying that. Reason being that when Shoojit and I were discussing Madras Cafe, we didn't have any benchmark and the only thing that he said was that the film would have a pace of Body of Lies. That was the only reference point and it ends there. See, since we don't have benchmark in Indian films for a genre like this, we had to mention references like Argo, JFK, Conspiracy Theory, Syriana etc.
Do you think there is an audience out here in India for this genre?
Yes, definitely. And this is what makes me excited. I really believe that there is an audience out there which wants to see good cinema. It would be a little presumptuous if I say that we have made a great film but at the very least we have made a good film for sure. I can't make tall claims of this being the best action film but then it is a very honest film.
Commercial success is a by product of good content. Our concentration is to focus on that. Approach of many filmmakers is wrong towards this. Some of them want just commercial success and for that they make proposals. My approach is different.
The film has been shot in various countries. How does it turn out to be truly integrated in the plot instead of turning out to be a 'global darshan'?
I must tell and guarantee you that not once will you feel that we have taken the film somewhere just for the sake of scaling it up. Yes, we have shot the film in Thailand, Malaysia, London, New Delhi and in the Southern part of India but it is not to show the largeness of the stage and setting. Every country in the film is a character and every character in the film is as important as me. In any case, script is the hero of Madras Cafe. I had said the same for Vicky Donor and I maintain that for Madras Cafe too.
Since you have taken the film across continents, was language a problem?
Yes, we have some dialogues in English, Thai, Sinhalese, Malay and Tamil as well. Also, we have Hindi and English subtitles for these dialogues. I have spoken these languages too but overall it is all kept minimalist.
Your body beautiful is kept minimalist too in the film, right?
Aaah, there you go again (laughs). See, RAW agents don't have six packs abs but then I would like to clear on record again that I am just talking about myself. That too because while I am synonymous of my body, it was important to deconstruct that for the film.
Now that the film has released, the world can see that your approach towards Madras Cafe is entirely different from Salman Khan's towards Ek Tha Tiger.
I am very clear that I will steer clear of any comparisons because these two films bear completely different languages. Madras Cafe has got its own USP.