x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Loving being Rowdy

Rowdy Rathore stars talk about the madness of the stunts, clothes and making the movie.

Rowdy Rathore stars, from left, Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha with the movie director Prabhu Deva promote the 
film in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
Rowdy Rathore stars, from left, Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha with the movie director Prabhu Deva promote the film in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National

Tomorrow sees the release of this year's most awaited Bollywood film, Rowdy Rathore. In the lead up to its long-anticipated premiere, the team has been travelling the world promoting the film with evermore innovative stunts. From riding alongside a rickshaw race to making an entry in a pickup truck led by dhol players, the lead actors Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha, who play a small time conman and his love interest, have been as rowdy off-screen as they are purported to be on-screen.

Rowdiness got the better of Bollywood's beloved newbie Sinha on set as well. In Dubai for interviews earlier this month, she described talking her way into doing her first stunt. Kumar - for whom this film marks a comeback as an action hero - was improvising a scripted stunt to up the thrill factor. Sinha got caught up in the excitement of the last-minute choreography and insisted she be part of this impromptu scene as well. Initially Kumar was reluctant to let Sinha in on the sequence, which involved a moving lift. Eventually, though, he gave in.

Sinha first appeared on the big screen in 2010's Dabangg opposite Salman Khan. The audience loved her and she soon had the luxury of picking her next roles from a huge assortment. Rowdy Rathore is one of six she has recently worked on.

"I pick films based on how well I think the character will suit my actual personality, and whether I feel the audience will like the character," she says. "Of course, the director, the producer and the script are all important factors as well, but the actual role I will be playing is extremely important."

When the role of Paro was offered to her, she knew she had to say yes.

"I saw the Telugu version of the film and loved it. It has all the masala elements and the character of Paro seemed like a fun one to play: an outspoken girl, glamorous in a desi way. So of course I said yes."

And boy is she glad she did. She describes her experience of working on the film - and with the director Prabhu Deva and her co-star Akshay Kumar - as a career highlight.

"I loved everything about this film. The costumes, the comedy, the music, the dances. And working with Prabhu and Akshay was such a pleasure. I have learnt so much from them. Akshay is one of the best co-stars you can hope for. More than just acting, I learnt professionalism from him - how to conduct oneself on set, how to deal with other actors and the rest of the crew. He has so much positive energy on the set all the time.

"And of course, Prabhu has been fantastic as a director. Before I even started shooting, I was told to be careful ... that he's tough. I think it's just that he knows exactly what he wants. He know what his actors are capable of and he wants to extract the best out of them."

Sinha calls herself "a director's actor", largely due to her lack of formal training in films, and claims that Deva has brought out the best in her, not just as a director, but also as a choreographer.

"He has really taught me how to dance like I never thought I could. Even when I was not able to get it perfect the first couple of times, he would coax the right amount of energy and the perfect performance out. It also helped that the songs in the film are so upbeat, that they automatically make you want to dance."

"I find dancing a lot more difficult than performing an action sequence," interjects Kumar. Rowdy Rathore is Kumar's first action role in almost seven years, and he has fallen back into it with amazing ease.

"I might have been away from playing action roles on screen," Kumar points out, "but in real life, action has been a part of my life every day. I practise martial arts on a daily basis and lead a very active lifestyle, so training or preparation was not even an issue when this role came up."

What did take a little getting used to was the colourful wardrobe. Kumar's outfits for the movie are comprised exclusively of loud trousers and even louder shirts. Think orange jeans and hot pink shirts. Think Munna from Rangeela. The wardrobe has been designed by Shabina Khan, who is also the co-producer of the movie along with Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

"I was a little hesitant when I first saw the clothes," admits Kumar. "But by now I'm used to it. We have been dressing like our characters for all the promotional events."

Sure enough, even at the Dubai event, the pair turned out in Rowdy Rathore style: Kumar in purple trousers and Sinha in a white sari.

Eagerly anticipating the release for their own reasons, both actors are confident the movie will do well.

"The film has already been successful in the Southern regional languages it has been made in before," says Sinha. "This time around, the only difference is that it has been made in Hindi and is geared towards an international audience. All the elements that lead to its success in the earlier versions are still there and I'm sure the audience will receive it well."

To watch video of the Rowdy Rathore stars' visit to Dubai, go to thenational.ae