Brothers Salman, Sohail and Arbaaz Khan hope for a hole in one with sport romcom Freaky Ali
Five years after their last collaboration, the Bollywood action romcom Ready, brothers Salman, Sohail and Arbaaz Khan are back with their latest joint project, the sport romcom Freaky Ali.
Produced by Salman Khan and directed by Sohail, the film features Arbaaz nd Nawazuddin Siddiqui in his first romantic role, alongside British crossover model and actress Amy Jackson. It also marks the comeback of Jas Arora, whose last major Bollywood role was in 2006’s Pyaar Ke Side Effects.
“Everything that we made in Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya, we lost in Hello Brother,” Sohail says as he jokingly alludes to the runaway success of the trio’s first collaboration in 1998, and the comparatively lukewarm reception of their 1999 follow-up.
“The chemistry we had there, which was almost 19 years ago, we didn’t get to enjoy it for a long time. We hope to bring it back with Freaky Ali.”
This will be the first Bollywood film based around the sport of golf, and Sohail reveals how the idea came about.
“I always wanted to make a film on a sport, but I didn’t know what or how,” he explains. “I visited a golf course a couple of years ago and thought that if we have the right kind of story, it would work beautifully.”
While researching the idea, he quickly realised that golf was “a misunderstood sport”.
“There is this huge misconception that golf can only be played on Sunday, or only by the elite,” says Sohail. “I discovered that the golf community wanted to be more inclusive. That’s how the idea came about to make a film about an unlikely golfer.
“The whole essence of Ali’s character was someone who does things in a freaky manner. To him, golf is simply this – there is a ball and there is a hole, and you have to sink the ball in the hole. The first person who came to my mind for that character was Nawaz [Siddiqui]. At that time, I had just one line for the film, and when I narrated it to him and he narrated it back to me, I knew that was it. I knew he was my Freaky Ali. We developed the whole character and the whole film around that line.”
Siddiqui, who shot to fame in 2012’s Gangs of Wasseypur and Gangs of Wasseypur (part 2), is an actor known for playing extremely intense and complex roles.
“This is the first time I have done such a light character,” confesses Siddiqui. “Credit goes to the director for creating an environment suitable to extract that kind of performance. After dong this film, I definitely want to keep on doing love stories.
“I had never played golf before doing this film,” he admits. “I used to wonder what the big deal is about sinking a ball into a hole. Once I started playing it, I realised that there are so many nuances. I started training before the shoot, aiming towards perfection, but Sohail stopped me because one of the main aspects of the character is the ‘freaky’ way in which he plays golf. It has definitely left its mark on me, though, and even now, I sometimes in get up in the morning and go play a round.”
For Jackson, who plays Siddiqui’s love interest, Megha, in the film, one of the challenges was the language.
“It’s a challenge, but it doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable,” says Jackson, who employed a private tutor to teach her Hindi. “This is just my second Bollywood project and the first where I am speaking proper Hindi. I know that I am dedicated and hardworking and I can do it. I feel very privileged to have got this project, because Nawazudin hasn’t been a romantic hero before. He is a sweetheart, and it’s amazing to see him in this genre. I feel he can do everything!”
The Khan brothers, too, all praised for Siddiqui on his lead role in the film.
“Nawaz started out as a nobody, and today he is one of those names that you can put up on a weekend and the theatres will get packed,” says Salman.
Arbaaz, who plays the role of a ‘wannabe gangster’ says that “Nawazuddin’s reputation precedes him, and rightfully so”.
Freaky Ali is also the comeback film for model-actor-turned designer Arora, who admits to having got plenty of offers, but none that tickled his fancy.
“In our industry, there is no shortage of work. You can be the biggest actor or the smallest actor, there is work for you. For years, I didn’t take a script because I didn’t have the confidence,” Arora admits. “I know how I look and that I can only play a few characters. I said yes to this project immediately because of its strength. My first scene on set was with Nawaz. It was a four-page scene and we did it one take. We had 250 people on-set to witness that, and we got a standing ovation. Sohail came to me after that and said he owes me a drink. I said: ‘No, I owe you a bottle for trusting me.’ We had a 60-day schedule and we finished in 38 days. That is the kind of chemistry the team had on set.”
Freaky Ali releases in theatres across the UAE on Thursday, September 8.
Published: September 6, 2016 04:00 AM