Ali Abbas Zafar hasn’t produced a theatrical feature in three years. His most recent film, Bharat, was released on Eid in 2019; his upcoming film, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, an action comedy starring Akshay Kumar and Tiger Shroff, is set to come out on Eid the following year.
He hasn’t been idle in the meanwhile. He developed three OTT titles that showed his core fans another side of the filmmaker. The most recent, Bloody Daddy, an action movie with Shahid Kapoor, is available for free streaming on Jio Cinema.
In an exclusive interview conducted shortly after the movie’s debut, Zafar discusses how he created a Gurgaon gangster movie, how he drew humour from the COVID era in which it is set, and if he believes the movie should have been shown in theatres.
People frequently complain that Bloody Daddy ought to have been released in theatres. Do you think it belonged in theatres based on the responses?
When viewers of your work describe it as a big-screen experience, it’s a huge praise. However, we were quite clear that the movie deals with a few elements that are crucial to its narrative. similar to the drug bag. Second, action-wise, it’s a little challenging. Blood and guns are present. Also, the characters talk in a particular type of language. People who praise Bloody Daddy do so in part because of its sincerity.
The majority of action films don’t appeal to critics. We set out to make a really credible action movie for the masses. Because of this, not a single shot of the action is in slow motion. It resembles a street brawl more. We would have had to include music in the middle of the story if we had adapted it for the big screen. This would then turn corrupt. If there is a sequel, we’ll check to see if we can get it into theatres tomorrow.
Is there a follow-up? Because you do, in the end, leave room for one.
Haha! We’ll see. It always depends on how much affection the world and the character receive. And a one-time love affair cannot capture it. It must be a long-lasting love. Six to twelve months after its release, it must still be in the public eye. The movie and the character are then confirmed to have stayed with the audience.
Why did you remake Bloody Daddy from the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night when it had already been transformed into the Thoonga Vanam movie starring Kamal Haasan in India?
The vulnerability of the main character in the original truly drew me in. You have no idea how he’s going to save his child from the villains. And I needed an actor who could convey both his fury and his softer side. He therefore portrayed a figure that you are torn between loving and despising. He is not an accountable father. We don’t know if he’s a nice guy or an evil guy until the very end. However, he shows that he is unquestionably a decent father.
Since the movie takes place after the second COVID wave, when many of us had migrated to OTT, I believe the free release on Jio Cinema is a suitable distribution strategy. Was the purpose of the setting to give the movie some situational humour?
The plan was to place the movie in a very authentic setting. mostly because the plot is a one-liner. For many of us, including those who were evicted from their houses because they couldn’t make their rent payments on time, COVID was a significant issue. But I wanted people to view this in retrospect through a peculiar prism and enjoy it. In India, people tend to be either highly intense or perform slapstick. Charlie Chaplin is credited with saying, “If you see tragedy in a wide shot, you see it as comedy.”
While many films and television shows have addressed that stage of life, they have largely been quite contemplative. It so happens that the action movie Bloody Daddy takes place during the COVID era.
Exactly! Because so many people died, it was a very difficult moment. However, I was in Delhi and Chandigarh when the second wave’s lockdown was released, and the scene there was quite different. People were dancing, there were weddings held in hotels, and there was a lot of partying. because many spent more than a year at home. Planned nuptials were postponed. So as the doors opened, everyone simply started partying. After the second lockdown, people were sick of being imprisoned inside their homes once more, months after the first wave, and it almost felt like vengeance partying.
Another movie about Gurgaon gangsters is Bloody Daddy. Gangster dramas have been primarily filmed in Mumbai or Uttar Pradesh. But how did you create a mafia movie set in Gurgaon that is visually and physically incomparable to Shanker Raman’s Gurgaon (2016)?
It’s easy to relate to Gurgaon NCR. People dress in flamboyant fashion but lack communication skills. Delhi is very showy, with expensive automobiles, extravagant weddings, and performances by Badshah. My favourite scene is when Sanjay Kapoor and Ronit Roy calm down after a fight. “Dekh tune meri Gucci jacket ka kya kar dia,” adds Ronit. And in response, Sanjay Kapoor asks, “Aur mere Armani ka kya?” Gurgaon is unique in that nobody there just says “jacket.” To let people know if they are wearing a Gucci or Armani, they prefix it with the brand.
Given that Bloody Daddy is a stylish action movie set in a hotel, fans have started drawing comparisons between it and John Wick. Was that franchise given any hat tips?
Only because Shahid is dressed in a black suit and has a physique type similar to Keanu Reeves do people make that comparison. Since people have seen him wearing the leather jacket in the movie, he needs to disguise his identity, which is why he wears that in it. He changes into a different set of clothes and joins the group. While there may be aesthetic similarities, such as action sequences in the bathroom and gaming area, the films’ characters and plots couldn’t be further dissimilar.
Bloody Daddy tells the tale of one night and is set in a hotel. Sultan (2016), Tiger Zinda Hai (2017), and Bharat (2019) are just a few examples of the large-scale, geographically and temporally dispersed films you’ve always shot. You spent 36 days making this movie in one location. Did the thriller have a sense of urgency because of this focused shooting style?
We had to make a bubble because COVID was still in progress. This made it easier for the actors and the crew to imaginatively imagine themselves in the COVID universe. Since the story takes place over the course of one night, Shahid and I were very clear that we needed to keep the filming tightly under control in order to create the impression that things are truly moving that quickly.
You’ve already completed two OTT projects, Tandav and Jogi. Will you miss developing for the streaming market now that Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, your upcoming theatrical blockbuster, is in production?
I’ve found OTT to be quite liberating. You don’t have to consider anything else as an artist, and you can promote your art form without tainting it. But when creating a movie on the big screen, you have to make sure that it appeals to everyone—children, seniors, and young people. It’s your responsibility to defend the actor’s star status. Because of COVID, I haven’t made a theatrical movie in the last three years. My settings are incredibly detailed, with a large cast and travel. Everyone was asking for health insurance, which made travel limits and spending a huge headache. Therefore, as a company, we were very clear that we would produce a theatrical movie once things returned to normal. After completing primary photography for Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, I began the film’s editing process. So my next theatrical release will be the following Eid.
Finally, you gave all lactose-intolerant folks a sense of inclusion with Bloody Daddy. Where did the important decision to include lactose-free milk in the story come from?
Haha! Everyone now asks for lactose-free milk when you go out. And I was unsure of what it was for a very long time. It is a representation of the highly educated, astute, and astutely aware Gen-Z generation. Hum toh bhains ka doodh pee ke bade huye hain prevented us from considering this idea. Therefore, it is a term that my generation will always remember. And that’s the angle I took in my movie.