Directed by Vibhu Puri, Hawaizaada is a period drama set in the heart of Mumbai, India in 1895, eight years before the Wright Brothers flew the first plane. It is about Shivkar Bapuji Talpade’s struggle against all odds — his singular mission and dream of becoming the first man to fly a plane. The British do not want him to get the credit for flying the first plane and become a hero to his people so the odds are stacked against him. Shiv, driven by an incredible grit, wills an impossible dream to come true. The ordinary young man becomes a hero to his friends and well wishers. Hawaizaada is a work of fiction inspired by true events.
One of Bollywood’s rising stars, Ayushmann Khurrana, plays Shivkar Talpade. Khurrana recently opened up about his life and, of course, Hawaizaada:
How was the transfer – shooting to presenter to singer to film actor?
I became an anchor because I was a very natural radio presenter. I was a radio presenter for two years in Delhi and I’ve done theatre in the past for 5 years. So I think the combination of theatre and radio somehow makes me a good presenter. Because one is a visual media, the other one is audio media and both communicate in a way. And after becoming an anchor for four years, I made this transition from television to films. But at the same time I had to unlearn a lot stuff, because anchoring is like talking to the camera and acting is like ignoring the camera. So I again had to do a lot of workshops before Vicky Donor and in fact before every film I have workshops with the director.
I used to take classical training as a kid from Mr. Prajesh Uja, but never took it too seriously. I had to choose between music group and theatre group in college – I chose theatre. I think even in theatre we used to compose our own songs for our own theatre productions. So in a way, I got ample practice for acting and singing at the same time.
What attracted you to Hawaizaada?
Hawaizaada is a potential cult film, you know, it’s based on true events and even the one liner draws a lot of attention. It’s a very novel script and the director Vibhu Puri has a great eye for detailing. Be it entertaining with the language or the sets or the scripting. I think he’s another prodigy in the Indian film industry from FTI, whose short film was nominated for the Student Oscars.
How aware were you about the original story it is based on?
I was completely unaware. It was a pleasant surprise, pleasant shocker for me when I heard that it was an Indian who made the first aircraft. Though it’s a conspiracy theory but it’s broad enough for a filmmaker to make a story.
Can you tell us about your character?
Shivkar Talpade is a happy-go-lucky, maverick kind of guy, who is a genius, who is wise, who doesn’t believe in a formal education but believes in the education of life. And he has various tracks in the film. One track is a love track. There is another track with his guru, the master Shastri. One track is with his father and eventually how we fly or propose to fly the plane.
How did you feel stepping back in time for the movie?
I always wanted to do a period film. It was on my wish list because I have a good command of the language– I’ve done theatre in the past and Indian Sanskrit. So I always believed that the root [of] every Indian language is Sanskrit. It was easy quite for me to learn Marathi and I’m looking forward to this film.
How did your look get decided?
We had almost seven look tests before finalizing this one. And it took us a good two months to finalize the eventual look. And Vibhu has an eye for detailing. Eventually we decided on this geeky/charming look.
How was the experience of acting opposite a legend like Mithun Chakraborty?
Mithun is amazing – he still feels like an eighteen year old. He has an amazing energy and there was this huge fan boy moment when I met him for the first time on the sets of Hawaizaada. And I used to dance to his song “I’m a disco dancer” – it’s wicked. It’s a pleasure working with him.
You star opposite Pallavi Sharda in Hawaizaada who is fairly new to the Indian film industry. Do you bounce off each other, help each other for your respective roles in the movie?
We used to do a lot of jamming together & Pallavi is a very natural actress. Apart from that, she trained a lot and it required a trained dancer. She’s one of the most intelligent actresses I have ever worked with.
What was your favorite moment in the movie?
I think all the flying shots are my favorite because I had this fear of heights, which was completely eradicated when I was suspended in the air for long hours and it used to take a lot of takes. Eventually I started enjoying all the flying shots being on a harness.
Are you a good dancer? What’s your favorite move?
I think I have a good sense of rhythm because I am a musician and a singer myself. Apart from that, I am a huge MJ fan so my favorite move is the moonwalk.
Who is your all time acting idol?
Shahrukh Khan & Govinda.
Why should we all go watch Hawaizaada?
Because as I said, Hawaizaada is a potential cult film. It is the untold story of an unsung hero and the climax is going to give you goose bumps.