Mulk director Anubhav Sinha: Three months of prep for actors
Mulk director Anubhav Sinha chronicles the toil put in by Taapsee Pannu, Rishi Kapoor and Prateik Babbar, to play "ordinary people"
Sonil Dedhia (MID-DAY; July 5, 2018)

It's being touted as a film that highlights the struggles of common people, but Mulk director Anubhav Sinha says that even slipping into the role of the ordinary demanded three months of prep from each actor. Featuring Rishi Kapoor, Taapsee Pannu, Prateik Babbar and Ashutosh Rana, the socio-political drama, Sinha says, is essentially a story of "a family's fight to reclaim its honour".

"But since the film is inspired by true life events, it was crucial that the star cast be thoroughly prepared so as to dive deep into their characters," Sinha says.

Anubhav SinhaOn schedule ahead of the shooting for Babbar - essaying the role of an anti-national - was extensive research on David Headley, American terrorist of Pakistani origin. He was also made to watch the documentary, Among The Believers. Slipping into the roles of a defence lawyer and public prosecutor respectively, Pannu and Rana understood the proceedings of the court under the guidance of retired HC judge Nadeem Siddiqi from Lucknow. As for the apt portrayal of Muslim rituals for Kapoor's character, a religious Muslim scholar was called in specially from Malihabad to oversee the goings-on.

A director subjecting his actors to such toil, one may assume, would be particularly choosy about the shots, but Sinha says he hardly ever had to ask for a second take. "I was quite impressed with every actor's contribution to the characters. A lot of them didn't need any retakes because they were well-researched. Ideally, a film of this nature takes two months to shoot, but we managed to finish it in 27 days in Lucknow."

The crux of Mulk finds its inception in a newspaper clipping that Sinha came across. "I read something in the newspaper that stayed with me. I developed a one-line idea and shared it with my friends. They liked it. We started developing the script, and realised we needed a solid cast. Fortunately, I was able to rope in some incredible performers."

Evidently, the seamless casting of Kapoor in the film continues to be the highlight for Sinha. "I always had him in mind for this character, but wasn't sure if he would do it because he likes slice-of-life films, while ours is a serious drama. When I narrated the script, I was nervous. But, he heard only one part of the script and agreed to do it. He is a surprise casting, and has done a phenomenal job."

Taapsee Pannu