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“We Worked On A Budget Of A Vicky Kind Of Film,” Says The Uri Director

After giving two years of his  life to directing the stunning new war  film Uri , director Aditya Dhar  is exhausted  .

“But in  a good way. There is  so much I’ve learnt during the making of the  film, not just about what goes in front   of the camera  but also about  the sacrifices the Indian soldiers and their families make. And then  to  have the cynics question their  dedication or to insult their dedication  by inviting Pakistan’s artistes to work in India, is just unthinkable,” saya Aditya who hails from Kashmir  but spent  most of his  life in Delhi.

Ironically the chance to make  a war film set in Kashmir came to him in a rather roundabout way.  “I was invited by Vishalsir(Vishal Bhardwaj) to make   a film based on a  short story by  Ruskin Bond. That didn’t materialize. Then I was supposed to do a film called Raat Baqi starring Fawad Khan and Katrina Kaif. It was to be produced by Karan Johar  and Star Fox. But then the  unofficial ban on Pakistani artistes happened.And  I was  at a loose end…when Uri came to me.”

 Aditya  says  it’s the  best thing that  could have happened to him. “Uri was godsent. It became  a mission where every member  of the team  gave his  best, and then some more. For example the  actor  Dhairya who played the Sikh solidier Sartajwas  not a  Sikh. But he practised  how to be one and lived  two weeks in a  Gurdwara.The facilities and  the freedom provided by our producer Ronnie Screwvala was beyond anything I could’ve imagined. Casting Vicky Kaushal as a  solo hero  was a risk in itself.We made the  film with the  kind of budget that would  be a reasonable for  a film with Vicky  in the lead.”

But here’s what Aditya and  the Uri team  did to control the  budget. “We shot all the outdoor scenes in Serbia, but resolved to do only one take for every shot, no matter how difficult. And we stuck to  our resolve to the very end. We  didn’t do a second  take for a single shot, although to get to that level of  confidence we rehearsed  extensively before shooting.”

Why Serbia? “Because  it was  impossible to shoot in Kashmir.Though  I was born and brought  up in Delhi and visited Kashmir  during my childhood. The  images of those visits were replicated  in Serbia. I couldn’t have  got a  better Kashmir  outside Kashmir than  Serbia. More importantly  we couldn’t get  all the battle-related artillery anywhere else. It was  virtually as though Uri was destined to be made in Serbia. Everything  just fell into place. How else could we have made this kind of a film in the  budget allotted to us?”

Aditya was  very sure he didn’t want to fall into the trap of propagating blatant jingoism. “I wanted  to show why  the surgical strike was essential. I wanted to channelize the inner anger of  the  soldiers. At the battle-front every soldier has  a buddy-soldier who becomes an  integral part  of his life. If that  buddy loses his life the resentment and anger  are beyond what we civilians can imagine. I wanted to  mine into that resentment and  anger. Now when people  are  coming up to me to tell me how much they connect with the sentiments of the  film I feel my  two-year  journey has  reached a proper culmination.”Attachments area

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