Tell us something about Hulla
Hulla is a very noisy film. A film that is very close to my heart because Jaideep (director) and I have been trying to make this film for a long time now. [an error occurred while processing this directive] We wanted a producer who would let us work without interfering. And we found Sunil Doshi. At the script and story level, it was completely original. The story felt like real people dealing with a real situation, which is blown out of proportion. I could see the situation and characters around me. The comedy was not forced it was born out of real situations, only the viewers will laugh and not the characters. Hulla deals with the life of Mr. Raj a stockbroker; at work there is always noise throughout the day hence he wishes for some peace of mind at home. He and his wife Abha move to a new housing society in the outer suburbs looking for peace and a quiet existence. But for some reason, he cannot sleep as something keeps disturbing him every night. After several sleepless nights, he finally decides to go and find out the cause. That's when he realizes that it's the security guard who disturbs him by blowing the whistle every night at the command of the secretary in order to keep thieves at bay. And Raj finds this absolutely illogical; according to him all the whistle does is rob him of sleep. The film is about the tiff and ego clash between these two men.
How did the title work out?
When Jaideep approached me, the title was already decided as Hulla. It was apt and fit the script perfectly. It tells you what the story is all about. Then later on, Raj Kumar Santoshi's Halla Bol released; so the crew and producer were apprehensive that people may get confused between Hulla and Halla Bol. We searched for a better title but could not take Hulla out of our minds hence we decided to stick to it.
You have been known for your roles and most times you name has been synonymous to the characters. How about this character as a stockbroker?
For me it was refreshing. Raj is not this intense guy which is what people normally associate me with. There won't be any fireworks or histrionic in terms of action, be it in a positive or negative character. I wanted to do something new as an actor and that's when this stockbroker came my way. The research part had already been taken care of by Jaideep. The way he thinks and behaves, he had to be an outsider who is not used to the Mumbai way, which was easy for me since I am not from Mumbai anyways. All in all, the physical effort of preparing for the character was not so much but I enjoyed playing every part of it.
How has been your equation with Jaideep Varma?
When I read the script, I was amazed and loved it immediately. It was a novel idea truly unique; an incident turned into a two-hour film. When I met Jaideep, he asked me if I agreed and identified with the character Raj. Now that was a tricky question, considering I wanted to do the role and when your prospective director asks such a question you would try to please and say, 'Yes'. But I told him that I do not identify with him and yes Raj was overreacting but nonetheless, I promised to play my part convincingly. Jaideep however still finds it funny as to, 'how can I say Raj is overreacting'. Over the years, we developed a great friendship. Jaideep has great conviction; when he wrote the script, he thought of me and stuck to it. He met a lot of producers who wanted bigger stars but he refused. He was like, "I don't want your money if you do not believe in my casting." It took him almost 7 years to finally find a producer and make the film with me. And he would always tell me, "If you believe in a thing totally it will happen even if it takes time."
How has it been working with Rajat Kapoor?
I have immense respect for Rajat. I loved his performance in Monsoon Wedding, which I think was a very difficult role. Plus he has made some great films; I have always wanted to work with him and he wanted to work with me too but unfortunately it never worked out until Jaideep finally brought in this opportunity. I loved and enjoyed working with him thoroughly.
How was your chemistry with Karthika (Abha)?
Very good, Abha and me, rather Karthika and I looked very natural on screen. We look like we've been married for sometime now. The chemistry was there and I enjoyed shooting with her. I enjoyed being myself with her on screen.
In real life, how similar are you to the character you portray in Hulla?
In some way, it is very close. I hate noise; personally, I am a quiet person. I do not go for loud parties, unless I am really drunk and just wanna dance. I am more a man of words. I like to talk I do not like places where people have to shout at each other just to converse. In my personal life, I do not like television too loud, people shouting at each other and I do not like to get into unnecessary arguments. That way I am close to Raj. But yes, I do make compromises and can adjust to situations. Raj on the other hand doesn't. I do not fight, as much as Raj but in someway I had to understand Raj to make my performance believable.
Personally, would you ever be disturbed by a whistle or for that matter any kind of noise once asleep?
I have gone to people's houses and shouted at them for playing music loudly at 2 am. I do not like the idea of religious festivals where loud speakers play on till night under the excuse of talking to God; that is a very private and personal affair. I have complained to the police as well during Diwali when crackers are burst at four in the morning. But alas nothing was ever done.
Frankly speaking, don't you think that the film lacks publicity on a commercial level?
It's a small budget film. We are relying on people's reaction to the film and word of mouth. I hope it works in favour of the film because we have worked really hard for it. We have a good story and good actors; I hope the word of mouth works for us.
In the entire film, which is your personal favorite scene?
It's really difficult to chose one particular scene but if you put a gun to my head and ask me to choose one, then it would have to be a scene in the police station with the inspector where I go to complain against the whole whistle incident. That itself is a funny incident, then after that, I thank the inspector by his name 'Mr. Pufale', and he makes me pronounce the name repeatedly. Since I am from north India, I cannot pronounce the Maharashtrian way. So that scene was very funny.
The film's music is by the rock band Indian Ocean. How do you think the music has evolved?
It's very functional, not over bearing and absolutely fantastic. Indian Ocean has given the background sore, the theme song, and a song talking about the characters. It's a very nice and catchy tune and leaves a lasting memory.
What next is lined up after Hulla?
I have just finished shooting for Mumbai Cutting; it should release anytime now. Then another film called Idiot Box, which is a regular commercial comedy. After which I will be working on a film called Lahore wherein I am doing a lot of kickboxing and then there is Toss, which is a thriller. Then I will also be doing Vinay Shukla's film, Mirch. And after that a supernatural thriller called Shout by Wilson Lewis.