What were the resources you needed to prepare for the film?
When you play a true character you need to know who is he where did he come from what happened. Lt. Col Rai Singh was a Commanding Officer (CO) of 2 Grenadiers and was trained during pre-independence era because the Indian Army was put together by the Britishers initially.
He was a strategist and he was very cool and he was a big fan of Gen.Mont Gomery, he fought in World War 1 and World War 2, and trained the soldiers back home because we kinda had an arrangement with them because they suddenly left and we need the army to go through a group process a direction which we had to go through from the British army which in fact my Nanaji had also done.
He was also under the British army who fought the World War 2 and he went to England. He also fought in Indonesia and defeated the Chinese 'where he met my Nani' that's how they got married. There are similarities to that, a young wife who had passed away at a young age and he had a 2nd marriage with two children. He was of a kind officer who leads from the front. He was not like the usual officers who would sit in the bunker, who would not go on the field and their want not to, but he was the kind of guy who wants to.
As J. P. Dutta comes from the old school of filmmaking when compared to the contemporary filmmakers what difference do you find?
Of course, there is a difference, when you sit with JP sir and you see a large frame, everything is large, and that's how he likes his movies. When the DOP would come and set his camera and JP sir would shift the camera a little and the whole frame would change, and the shot would change, of course he's a complete purist so I believe there are directors and there a filmmakers and JP sir is a filmmaker he makes the film with passion and he has a story to tell, he wants to get into it.
He wants to make it Magna-opus and the music is big and everything is big and I think he was trying to get used to the digital world somewhere around because he shot on film so he really likes depth in his frame what is happening on the background and what all is going on and he is an incredible choreographer of war so the war sequences which he choreographed is just magical.
I don't know if any youngster knows that as he has not experienced that many wars and wars today have changed you know most of it is done by artillery but today it is done by pressing buttons and rockets going there destroying things or a lot of air warfare and on ground warfare I don't know if any most people have experienced so he's come from that so he's seen that and to define that character and give each person characteristic and to be pure towards that.
What was the reason behind using real bullets?
Even I don't know, maybe he wanted us to kill each other!
Was it scary for you when you started shooting?
NO, it was not scary it was exhilarating not at all scary. I think each filmmaker has his own style doing something unique, which suddenly makes that difference with you firing doing something which is not really fighting a war obviously, but to bring it to as close as possible you get to experience real gun in your hand, real bullets, which can kill someone, your whole body language changes, your attention changes your whole moment changes.
You move in a particular way you don't worry about the bomb going off on the side you are alert of that so your alertness gets enhanced by 1000 times you are just in a zone and that is what you'll get to see in the body language when all of them are running and when you see that I think that was the reason why he wanted us to do it and it think that was something that he wanted us to do because what usually what happens is when you are running with the guns with blank bullets where you'll fly around you'll do your herogiri here you cant do your herogiri focused on what you have to do which is what you have to be when you are on a battlefield, you have to be completely aware of what the enemy is doing of the surroundings and everything!
Paltan is a very intense film with a rollercoaster ride of an emotional and action sequence, which was the most difficult shot for you?
I think its not difficult but the shot which emotionally got me was towards the end of the film the last shot where my character comes out and sees the carnage that he has created and the way that whole thing was and the way it looked it really hits you and only one thing that goes through your mind Is I wish there will never be a war again.
What are your expectations from Paltan and does box office numbers matter to you?
It bothers everybody, the more and more movies you make more and more movies to see it the box office numbers make people go up and yes the more and more people go to see the movie.
With a bunch of boys on set How would be off the camera on the sets?
Off camera? It would be all sorts of fun, Ladakh is a very beautiful place. Once you get acclimatized you have a cool bunch of crew you have good people you are working with there's so much to do there we would go to the monasteries together and there was a monastery on our way to hotel and sets, it was beautiful.
We used to go there and chant, just take a bike and go around Ladakh you were free to do that, work out together, we woke up early in the morning and just run and then get exhausted and then just workout and this comradery like me Harsh, Gurmeet, Sidharth, Luv and Soonu I know and then I got to meet him and 2 and a half months your staying in a place like that its really really cool.
Luv is a prank!
What was the prank about?
So basically you should ask him, Luv is called as the tinder hunter on our side, he's the only one who got tinder on his phone. So you also got a hang of it ok? Be careful of Luv.
So how did you prepare yourself for the climate there?
So thankfully I had been to Ladakh before, where I went trekking and climbed the Siachen Glaciers to meet the soldiers there so I had done that I knew what the terrain is and how careful you have to be you have to go back to the plains and get acclimatized over there and its very important for you to take those 3-4 days off, 3 days just not to do much activity so that your body gets used to it all your breathing all your lung capacity and your oxygen capacity but all rooms were packed as all the rooms had oxygen tanks medicines everything laid there in case of emergencies, the only people you had to take care was Luv and Siddhant, and I think they are still on oxygen.
It wasn't about the writer it was about the screenplay and when you have a true story and you put it all together and work out a screenplay when you have a true story and put it together, too much material how much to keep up is so thing a very difficult choice to make, so I did not write the whole story, it was true story and there's a lot of information for me I just kinda put it together and structure it output forth the dialogue.
I think writing is great, everybody should write, your creative mind and put your ideas out there and if you kinda make it into a story or even if into just an article, or book I mean its great.
After Paltan I start on four films but then it comes down to materials sometimes you get a lot of material and sometimes you want to take it easy. So my mom was not well so I had to take it easy, I would be doing a Horror film, a biopic, a thriller, and a fantasy film!
Can we see you in a comedy film?
All of them will have a comedy!
What type of scripts are you planning for?
So today if you give me a script and I like it and it excites me I would really like to work on it if I'm planning to do something for my own production company then ya I know these are the scripts and the stories that I wanna tell will make great content but people will like to see you in different characters like LT.Col Rai Singh and you get the script and you get excited about it.
Favorite war film?
Platoon and On the banks of River Kwai.