Arjun Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ranveer Singh at Taj Bengal on Tuesday evening. Pictures by Pabitra Das
They are the gundas on set, but for them she is ‘madam’ or ‘big boss’. They have Priyanka Chopra between them, but there’s a serious bromance brewing on set. After shooting in the city for close to a month, Team Gunday — Priyanka, Arjun Kapoor, Ranveer Singh and director Ali Abbas Zafar — took some time out on Tuesday evening to talk about their film and their time in the city. If Ali stuck to business and Priyanka kept it simple, it was the two boys who at least gave a glimpse of some gundagardi!
“Gunday is set entirely in Calcutta and this is the film’s first outdoor shoot. It chronicles the Calcutta between 1971 and 1988 and is specifically the story of Bikram, played by Ranveer, and Bala, played by Arjun, who rise from being wagon breakers to coal mafia. It’s an action drama with songs and romance. The characters and their story are fictional but we have used various real-life incidents that happened during that period,” said Ali, who had earlier directed the Imran Khan-Katrina Kaif romance Mere Brother Ki Dulhan.
So why set Gunday in Calcutta? “Every story needs a soil, an anchor and a socio-political environment in which it can be set. Calcutta has not only been the cultural capital of India, it was also a politically turbulent city during the period in which Gunday is set and I thought that no other city would suit my film better,” said Ali.
“My character is called Bikram and I can’t tell you anything more about my role apart from the fact that I like that it’s spelt with a B!” said Ranveer, easily the livewire of the evening, sporting his Ram Leela [a Sanjay Leela Bhansali period drama co-starring Deepika Padukone] look even for Gunday.
“I play a Bengali girl called Nandita. After Barfi!’s Jhilmil, this is my second Bengali character and I love the fact that Bengali women are so bold and beautiful,” said Priyanka, sexy in a little black dress and scarlet lips.
“I am Bala and, honestly, we can’t tell you too much about the film apart from the fact that it’s been a riot on set,” added Arjun.
“I always love coming to Calcutta because I have a lot of friends and some family here. And, of course, the food is another reason why I am hooked to the city.... We were shooting at Dakshineswar and I thought it was amazingly beautiful… I had such a lovely darshan,” smiled Priyanka who had shot for Anurag Basu’s Barfi! here a year-and-a-half ago.
“I shot Lootera (with Sonakshi Sinha) here last year and that’s such a different film from Gunday. I love this city because it has the potential to be so much… to be such diverse backgrounds for diverse films,” added Ranveer, who had camped for the Vikramaditya Motwane film in Purulia, besides Calcutta.
“This is my first time ever in Calcutta, apart from one night that I spent here with Salmanbhai (Khan) on a promotional for Wanted. Evenings really depress me but a boat ride that we took on the Hooghly some days ago just changed that for me… it was so beautiful and serene,” said Arjun.
With the team shooting all over the city — Belekhali to Dakshineswar, Maniktala to Dalhousie — the boys are having a blast. So, who’s being the bigger gunda of Gunday? “Why is it that every time someone mentions gundagardi, all eyes turn to me?” mock-complained Ranveer. “But honestly, gundagardi flows in our blood and now we are getting to play gundas and being paid for it too! It’s an energetic set… boisterous and rambunctious would be the apt words to describe the atmosphere on set,” he added.
But turns out it’s actually Ali who can easily lay claim to the tag. “I remember how when shooting an action sequence which involved breaking a bottle on someone’s head, he kept directing us to do it in a particular way saying that’s how he had done it once for real!” laughed Arjun.
All talk of Ranveer and Arjun not seeing eye-to-eye on set were quickly dispelled. “Ranveer and I knew each other long before we became actors. In fact, my debut film Ishaqzaade wouldn’t have happened if his debut film Band Baaja Baaraat wouldn’t have been such a big hit. We have always wanted to work together, but didn’t know that it would happen so early. Working with Ranveer in Gunday has been one of the most special experiences of my life,” winked Arjun.
Ranveer chose to take the bromance banter a notch further with: “Arjun and I have amazing chemistry… we are dynamite together, we get along like a house on fire. He cracks me up all day and talks about girls all day long, but I don’t mind it. In fact, we have a serious relationship going! (Laughs out loud.)
Arjun also had a story to share about Ranveer the “sport”. “I remember the time he came to the Ishaqzaade success party and we did the Chhokra jawaan dance together… I was being me and he was Chandbibi (played by Gauahar Khan in the film)!”
AND THE BOSS!
With Priyanka being the odd one out, the bromance boys were quick to shift their focus back to her. “She’s the big boss on set… she’s the madam. I remember the first day Priyanka came on set and told me that she’s done 30 films. I told her I was on just my second film while Arjun said he had two-and-a-half and Ranveer chipped in with three-and-a-half films! It was hilarious,” laughed Ali.
Do you agree with Priyanka that Bengali women are bold and beautiful? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org