Filmmaker Rohit Shetty has action in his DNA. His father was yesteryear fight composer and famous baddie MB Shetty.
And as far as Rohit is concerned, he doesn’t remember ever wanting to do anything except following in his father’s footsteps. “I’m exaggerating, but I think I wanted to be an action director from the time I was born. I became a film director accidentally. And this, I owe to my parents,” he says.
About the challenges of shooting the action sequences in Singham Returns, he adds, “The film is entirely based in Mumbai, and shooting action in the city is a huge challenge. Filming an action scene on a grand scale is an adventure by itself. At any given point of time, there are two or three shoots happening here. Stopping traffic, stopping the local trains and focusing on their time gap — one has to fine-tune everything. Not to forget that the city is always on red alert. So, one has to deal with a lot of authority. I’m fortunate that the protagonist of my film, Bajirao Singham, is a law-abiding police officer and so, the police did have a soft spot for us. I’m grateful to the Mumbai Police, who helped us with permissions. Had they not allowed us, we could never have dreamt of shooting in places like the Gateway of India. Post the terror attacks of 26/11, no film has been allowed to shoot there. Kids of this generation may never have seen Mumbai on screen the way we have captured the city in our film. Whether it is the railway tracks of Reay Road, Ballard Pier, or the Mahim Dargah, we have done breathtaking action around all these iconic landmarks.”
Rohit continues, “It would be cliched for me to say that our action scenes are different. But I must still add that there are at least three sequences that I haven’t done before.” He adds, “There are hand fights and car chases in every film of mine. But the audience will get to see something new in the action scene shot at Reay Road, barely 10 feet away from the tracks. Can you imagine, we had Ajay running, fighters flying, cars being blown up! And the real challenge was that there were live electric cables, because the local trains were also passing by. A thousand people were present on the set when this sequence was being canned, so you can imagine the level of coordination and discipline we needed.” Rohit is also proud of the action done on the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, some of which was live — the rest was done using computer graphics (CG).
Of course, the Mission: Impossible 3-style shot of Tom Cruise, replicated by Ajay Devgn, is a live action sequence. “There is no CG on this one,” the filmmaker clarifies. He explains, “There was a thin mat, which the unit kept and they had to actually pull Ajay from alongside the jeep. However, the vehicle moved and Ajay got cramped in the real shot.” Singham Returns, produced by Ajay Devgn Ffilms and Rohit Shetty Productions, and presented by Reliance Entertainment, releases August 15.