Rajasthan that I belong to wasn't of palaces and sand dunes: 'Thar' director on film's setting

Chaudhary said he knew he wanted Harsh Varrdhan for the film when he saw the trailer of his debut Mirzya in 2016.He had those eyes and face that I needed for Thar.

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 02-05-2022 12:16 IST | Created: 02-05-2022 12:16 IST
Rajasthan that I belong to wasn't of palaces and sand dunes: 'Thar' director on film's setting
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Standing on top of a rocky mountain as a child somewhere in his native Rajasthan, actor-director Raj Singh Chaudhary says he would often visualise a horse and a cowboy, a scene straight out of his favourite Western films.

''I never knew I'll be making a film... very Clint Eastwood,'' he said about his upcoming movie ''Thar'' referring to the Hollywood veteran synonymous with the genre courtesy Sergio Leone's ''Dollars Trilogy'' films.

Set in the 1980s, ''Thar'' traces the journey of Siddharth (Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor) through a remote village in Rajasthan that has recently been rocked by a series of violent killings. Anil Kapoor plays the role of a cop Surekha Singh, who investigates these murders.

With filmmakers training their lens towards the 'havelis' of the erstwhile royals, folk dances, and sand dunes, Indian cinema's love affair with the desert state is well known. But Chaudhary wanted to present his vision of the region through the inhospitable Thar Desert and the Aravalli mountain range, thereby doing justice to the ''unique'' story of his neo-Western action thriller.

''As a child, I used to visualise from a mountain top that a horse would come and stand and there's a cowboy... I didn't want to make 'Thar' into a run-of-the-mill story. I have been a fan of the Western genre from my childhood. The Rajasthan that I belong to wasn't the Rajasthan of palaces and sand dunes.

''My Rajasthan is the one with the mountains and that is very similar to the ones that we see in the Western films. The local population with sunburnt faces, stained teeth, moustaches, scraggy beards... all that is very similar to those films,'' the filmmaker, who has previously directed ''Shaadisthan'', told PTI in an interview.

Chaudhary, best known for starring in and co-writing 2009's acclaimed film ''Gulaal'' with director Anurag Kashyap, said ''Thar'' comes with an underlying message that will resonate with everyone.

''I'm trying to convey something through this film. It could be anybody whether in a village, a 2-tier city, towns, or even internationally... the film will resonate with every human. If the soul of the film comes through, my job here is done,'' he added.

As seen in its trailer, ''Thar'' doffs its hat to ''Sholay'', the 1975 classic with Anil Kapoor's dialogue where his character says:''Pata nahin mujhe kyun lagta hai ye picture Gabbar ke baare mein nahin hai. Ho sakta hai ye sab kuch Thakur ne kiya ho, ya phir Jai aur Veeru, aur kya pata Basanti? (''Don't know why but I feel this film is not about Gabbar. Maybe Thakur is behind all this, or maybe Jai and Veeru, or maybe Basanti?'' The film, according to the filmmaker, is the ''closest we have come to the Western genre in our cinema'', but it was film's co-writer Kashyap's idea to hark back to the Ramesh Sippy multi-starrer.

''This is the genius of Anurag Kashyap. When he was writing the dialogues with me, he came up with this thought that anybody could be the murderer. When Anurag brought in those dialogues, by default, it became a homage to 'Sholay','' Chaudhary added.

The story fit organically into the genre and the location, the director said, describing Western as one of the most commercially viable genres of all time.

While he praised Leone's films and their signature background score composed by Ennio Morricone, Chaudhary said he drew inspiration from a modern-day Western ''Django Unchained'', directed by Quentin Tarantino. While ''Thar'' has an mystery element to it, the director said it is important for a whodunit to be a good 'whydunit'.

''Basically every character could be the culprit, understanding the motivation for a character is important... A good whodunit would be where you feel that every character could or could not be the murderer,'' he added. Chaudhary said he knew he wanted Harsh Varrdhan for the film when he saw the trailer of his debut ''Mirzya'' in 2016.

''He had those eyes and face that I needed for 'Thar'. I spoke to Vikram Motwane. Harsh was doing 'Bhavesh Joshi' with him at that point of time. I asked Vikram to introduce me to Harsh and we moved ahead with the film.'' ''Thar'' was previously produced by the now disbanded Phantom Films, of which Kashyap and Motwane were co-founders. Harsh Varrdhan and Anil Kapoor are credited as producers on the film under Anil Kapoor Film Company (AKFC).

''Phantom couldn't make it as it got dissolved, but Harsh and I stuck to it. We wanted one character to be played by Anil sir. He read the script and he really liked it but since I'm a new director he was sceptical about it. Will I be able to pull it off? ''Trusting someone new is a big risk for him, he told me and Harsh to shoot three scenes properly with a film camera... we edited it, with the score, and we showed it to him. He really liked it and that is how he came on board. We then worked more on the script, then Netflix came on board,'' he said.

Chaudhary further said there are a lot of pluses about releasing the film on Netflix.

''If I'd done this in the theatres there were certain things I'd have to dilute in the film. But Netflix gives you that bandwidth to make the film you want to make in the way you want to make. Maybe you'll not get the kind of budget if you want to do a theatrical. OTT is a huge medium today for the audience to reach out and watch films,'' he added.

Also starring Fatima Sana Shaikh, Jitendra Joshi, Satish Kaushik, Akshay Oberoi and Mukti Mohan, ''Thar'' will start streaming from May 6.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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