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Fighter director Siddharth Anand claims the Hrithik Roshan – Deepika Padukone starrer makes War and Pathaan look like ‘very simple films’

Written by on January 24, 2024

After presenting one of the biggest blockbusters of Hindi cinema in the form of Pathaan on January 25 last year, filmmaker Siddharth Anand’s next Fighter is set to release this year on the same date. Starring Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone in lead roles, the movie is touted to be India’s first aerial action film. In an exclusive interview with Bollywood Hungama, Siddharth Anand spoke about the experience of shooting a film of such a high scale and revealed that it took some time for Hrithik to agree to do Fighter.

Your last film Pathaan released on January 25 last year. Your next film Fighter is releasing on the same date this year. It’s an interesting co-incidence

Earlier it used to be 2nd October for me (his films Bang Bang and War released on October 2 in 2014 and 2019 respectively). Somewhere, I do get stuck with dates. Now it’s 25th Jan. So hopefully, this will work as well, like how Pathaan did.

Who thought about the idea of Fighter in the first place?

This is a world I have been very fascinated with for a while. I have been wanting to do a film with aerial action and Indian Air Force. I have been fascinated by their lifestyle, personalities and the world that they live in where they fly these supersonic jets, which are so powerful and with such speeds. And they risk their lives every day. I love the dynamism of that. But obviously I was certain to make a film that is authentic and real. And I have no defence background. So, there was always a struggle on how do I find an associate who can take charge of complete authenticity and realism.

Fortunately, God listened to me, and a script landed up with me on the same subject written by this gentleman called Ramon Chibb. He is from the forces, and he was also working on a film on the air force. That (story) came to me, and I loved the realism in that, the depiction of reality. I said but we need to yet make it larger-than-life and add some elements. It all fell into place, and we worked together on the broader story. We agreed to take it to a place where it’s a good combination of realism and yet heightened reality. So that’s how Fighter came about.

Through this film, Hrithik Roshan and Deepika Padukone are starring together for the first time. What was the specific reason to cast them as the lead pair?

Hrithik is somebody who has always been associated with me. I wrote the character of Patty with Hrithik in mind very clearly. It took a little while to get him to say yes to the film. Even though we have a great association, but every film is a new journey, a new script and new character. Here, I presented Hrithik a character which is very unlike what he normally would do. He plays larger-than-life characters, really unbelievably heightened characters. And here Patty is someone who is so real. He is like you and me, who cries and emotes like that and reacts in anger like Patty would. It was a little bit of journey to see that this character is eventually someone he can make very unique, dynamic and exciting. But the basis of the foundation of Patty is very real character and very unlike Hrithik Roshan has done in his entire career, I would say.

There would have been nobody who would have played Mini with the same ease and conviction as Deepika does. She can make it a girl-next-door any point in time and yet be larger-than-like Mini who flies these insanely amazing pieces of machines like this chopper, which can do such stunts. Deepika looks so effortless being an air force pilot.

It is said that Fighter is India’s first aerial action film, which sounds very ambitious and challenging

It was very challenging because it was like keeping a fish out of water. I had no idea how this is done. I just knew what I wanted to do. The how of it was a big journey. It was a journey of two years of prep, planning and extreme research, then getting the air force on board, getting them to allow us to use their airbases, choppers by giving them over 2000 storyboards, showing them how we were going to do our real and believable scenes and we can execute them. It’s been a very long process, which makes War and Pathaan look like very simple films.

VFX would have played a very important role in a film where a lot of mid-air action happens between fighter jets

The best VFX is the one where you can’t make out that it’s VFX. So, there are some films where you will miss getting the best VFX award because people will not believe yeh VFX hai. It will feel like yeh toh real hai, isme kya kaam kiya hai? That is the idea to do VFX. Obviously, it makes big tentpole films and action films. There is no film in the world that doesn’t take help of VFX and whoever says we don’t is lying.

The idea is to do it effortlessly, seamlessly and blend it with real action, so that you never know when the real action ended and VFX started. That is where the real quality lies and that is what we have done with Fighter, where we have used real jets to do real action and maybe punch in a bit of VFX for a small bit which the real plane would not be able to do or the camera couldn’t capture. So that the audience gets an amazing theatrical experience. That is the sense of Fighter because it’s all real jet.

Pathaan, as we all know, became a blockbuster. But what was going through you just before its release since the stakes were really high considering it was Shah Rukh Khan’s comeback after four years?

I had the same feeling I am going through right now. I was nervous and anxious then, as I am now, even though I am coming with Hrithik whose pair with me had a major blockbuster with War. There is nervousness every time because it’s a new film. The audience puts all your past laurels behind and treats this film as a fresh film. As a filmmaker, every film is like a first film. You are judged for it. What you have done in the past is the past and that’s how it should be. You should not sit back and become lazy and take your success and the audience’s appreciation for granted.

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