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Kabir Khan: “I’ve Lived With Forgotten Army For 20 Years.”



If Fate, that capricious mistress  of  Man’s future, had willed it, director Kabir Khan’s first feature film would have been on  the Subhas Chandra Bose’s  Indian National Army(INA).

“I had  made a  documentary on the INA entitled   The Forgotten Army for Doordarshan in 1999 and the idea of making a   film on the subject stuck in  my head. The  story  of Subhas Chandra Bose’s army stayed with me. I remember as  a  25-year old I visited all the places  where  the  INA had been, imagined what they had been through. It was  a story that I  needed to tell .After I made documentaries I  realized these won’t provide me  with a  sustainable career. I  wanted The Forgotten Army to be my first feature film.But then,  Kabul Express  happened. Then New Yorkand  the  others…Now, it’s finally happening on  Amazon’s OTT platform,” says  Kabir  experiencing the sense  of  elation that comes after a long wait.

Did The  Forgotten Army take so long to materialize  because it  was impossible to make as a  feature  film?

“No  it’s not that,” Kabir corrects me. “In fact Adi( Aditya Chopra)  and I had been discussing The Forgotten Army as  a feature  film for years now. Although I made  other  films for Adi I somehow  never got down to doing this one project that I  wanted to.”

 Is it because  of  the budgetary constraints?  “No ,it’s not the budget. But yes, if I made  The  Forgotten Army  for the  big screen I’d probably have  to have a big superstar in  the lead role. I guess every story has its own destiny and this  one was  destined to be  made as  a 5-part series. I’m very happy with my actors in The Forgotten Army. Sunny Kaushal is excellent, And Sharvari  who plays  an  equally important  role , is now doing a feature film Bunty Aur Babli 2  for YashRaj films.”

 How different would The Forgotten Army have been as a feature film?

Kabir mulls  over that one. “ I don’t know if it  would have been any different. I have told the  story  of these incredible foot soldiers and subalterns exactly the way I wanted to. What this 20-year wait  taught me  was to not let my story be a slave to history.  By that I mean, the  characters  need not  move in  a particular rigid way  . While filming  the story  I gave myself the  liberty to make the characters  mouldable.”

The tension of awaiting  release  is  no different  from what  Kabir felt while  preparing for  the  release  of his feature films  which include  the very impressive Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Ek Tha Tigerand  New York. “It’s exactly the same on  the OTT platform as a feature  film. This is  the story I want  to tell. And  I’ve told  it without any  changes.”

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