Six years after his first black comedy, Delhi Belly director Akshat Verma is back with another film in the genre. The movie, Kaalakaandi, which is set to hit the silver screen on January 12, has Saif Ali Khan in the lead role, along with a host of other actors.
It is the tale telling three parallel stories taking place on the same night. Verma says, “Kaalakaandi is a widely used term in Mumbai, while for the rest of India it is a little strange title. This will give people a reason to find out its meaning.” Kaalakaandi is a Marathi slang for when things go disastrously wrong.
The director says it took six years to write this film. “I hope I can make another before I die. The film is about who we are when no one is looking. When we are alone, we don’t have to keep appearance and we try to get away with anything. That’s when we find out who we are.”
This is Saif’s first black comedy film, and he is enjoying being in the space. Saif, who just got back from his family holiday in Switzerland, says he is all set for the release. “It is a film about maintaining balance and control in life. Sometimes things happen and the energy levels or moods change and you get seriously involved in what’s important and what’s not. In the movie, my thoughts also flick between the present and the future. I feel tomorrow is the last day. It is the balance that you create in life by controlling the things you do. It maybe a glass of wine. With experience and age you realise all these things,” says Saif.
Initially, Akshat had approached Fawad Khan for the role, but things didn’t work out. “I had always thought of Saif in the lead, even when I was writing. But I didn’t know if he would say yes. So I approached Fawad as the studios involved wanted him. He loved the script but he was leaving for Pakistan the next day.
He also told me that he was skeptical as to how his fans would react to this role.”
Getting Saif was also not an easy task for him. “Somehow I managed to approach him and he enjoyed reading the script. Saif is a pleasure to work with. He comes prepared on the sets and is so involved
that he actually blew his thumb off with a gun during one of the scenes. And he had to be rushed to the hospital,” says Akshat.
He says the film does not have a message as such. “I am curious to see what you take from it. Everyone has a different perception of stories.” Saif also enjoyed working with Akshat. “He is very intelligent. We did a lot of script reading and workshops but most of it was spontaneous,” he says. The film is a dark comedy but somehow Saif doesn’t feel so. “Only the first scene in the film is dark because the character realises he is suffering from cancer. And he takes to acid and drugs to deal with his life.”
But the movie does not promote drugs at all. “It’s easy to get addicted to these things. So, the youth should be in the right company, and people whom they spend time with should be aware of what is right for them. Parents and teachers cannot help because kids find them boring at this age.”
Meanwhile, Akshat insists that the film is a black comedy. “We have an inherent black humour in our lives. Despite seeing a lot of events around us we take it in our stride and go on with our lives. Humour is a cynical exercise, it’s a protective mask and a weapon to protect ourselves.”
The film that was earlier given 72 cuts has now been passed with just three cuts by the tribunal. “I am happy that we are releasing the film with just one cut,” says Saif.
Akshat says, “When the tribunal suggested 72 cuts, we had decided to release the movie on Netflix. But, we approached the tribunal again and spoke to them on why we were showing certain things in the movie. And they asked for just three words to be replaced.”
On a parting note, Saif says, “2017 has been a great year with a lots of ups and downs but also a year of learning. I fell more in love with my profession, thanks to films like Rangoon and Chef.”
His movie Bazaar is also slated for release this year. “I am playing slightly dangerous roles. I am in my 50s now and I believe that 60 is the new 40. I am trying to lead a better life by being a balanced person. I am trying to listen more, speak less and exercise well. I have been eating the right diet and controlling a lot of things.”