"I kept waiting very nervously, thinking someone would point out some mistake"- Meghna Gulzar on 'Sam Bahadur'

In an exclusive conversation with us, the director, Meghna Gulzar, talked about the challenges of balancing historical accuracy with creative interpretation and the amount of research that went on to recreate the era authentically.

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Meghna Gulzar and Vicky Kaushal

After having a momentuous clash with Animal at the box office and still holding its own garnering good money, Sam Bahadur witnessed quite a journey. After achieving all the said laurels, the film recently had its digital release on Zee5 and has been reaching out to more and more people.

In an exclusive conversation with us, the director, Meghna Gulzar, talked about the challenges of balancing historical accuracy with creative interpretation and the amount of research that went on to recreate the era authentically.

As a director, how did you approach the challenge of balancing historical accuracy with creative interpretation, especially when portraying real-life figures? 

The creative interpretation takes a back seat; historical accuracy is always of prime importance. There is no interpretation; there is execution. You just have to be able to translate what has happened historically visually. You can't distort it; you can't embellish it.  I think you can't, and I don't think that's the ethical thing. But yes, at a screenplay level, at a writing level, you try to write out those incidents or milestones in a way that is entertaining and engaging for the audience because, at the end of the day, you're not making a documentary; you're making a film, and you want the audience to be engaged in the story and the world that you are creating.

Given the diverse time periods covered in the film, can you share any anecdotes about the research and attention to detail that went into recreating each era authentically?

No, this is a pretty open-ended question because there was just everything – every ribbon, every medal, every uniform fabric, every colour of the uniform, every weapon, every pistol, and every holster of that pistol has been researched and then vetted by our consultants and our historians who are engaged. There was never a moment where we said whether that was a three-ton truck or a three-legged stool if it had to be period-correct, It had to be period-correct, no compromise on that. So, every department has worked strenuously to achieve that. I mean, for the first few days after the release, I can honestly confess this now; I kept waiting very nervously, thinking someone would point out some mistake, someone was going to say that we went wrong somewhere. But that hasn't happened, which is not a small achievement for a film that spans four decades and has uniforms from the pre-independence British Army period, World War Two period, independence, right up to the '71 war period.

Sam Bahadur is currently streaming on Zee5.

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Vicky Kaushal Thumbnail

Vicky Kaushal

Meghna Gulzar Thumbnail

Meghna Gulzar

Sam Bahadur poster

Sam Bahadur

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