'We always think of retirement as a time to settle down, that it is the sunset of our lives.'
'Instead of calling it retirement, we must call it 're-tyre-ing', that is putting a new set of tyres and going on a new journey.'
Director-writer Ajayan Venugopalan gives us a thoughtful film with Shiv Shastri Balboa, starring Anupam Kher, Neena Gupta, Nargis Fakhri and Sharib Hashmi.
It goes beyond the light-heartedness, and gives us a message to take home.
Venugopalan tells Rediff.com Contributor Sameena Razzaq more about it, and also shares some interesting anecdotes: "I had to convince Mr Kher to get on a hot air balloon. He is scared of heights, so he wasn't ready for it. I had to use Neenaji's help to cajole him to get on the hot air balloon."
The posters of the film are quirky and funny; even Akshay Kumar seemed impressed.
The credit goes to the people who have worked in the film.
It was amazing that a respected and powerful actor like Akshay tweeted about the posters.
It gave the film much needed visibility and love from every section of society.
Other actors like Kajol and Kangana (Ranaut) have also come out in support of the film.
We are extremely happy and thankful for response the film has generated.
Senior citizens do tend to feel captive in large homes in America. Apart from bringing this reality to screen, is there a broader message that you intend to convey?
The basic premise of the film is about revisiting the idea of retirement.
Especially from an Indian context, we always think of retirement as a time to settle down, that it is the sunset of our lives.
This film addresses that and conveys instead of calling it retirement, we must call it 're-tyre-ing', that is putting a new set of tyres and going on a new journey.
Since the film is set in the United States, it talks about important issues like immigration and racial tensions.
But the primary focus is an old man's journey of finding the hero within himself.
It must have been sheer joy to watch seasoned actors like Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta in the same frame.
They are the finest actors in India and I am truly blessed to work with them.
They have excellent chemistry between them, being colleagues and friends for many years.
Once you watch the film, I am sure that all the viewers will agree with me that both have performed very well.
What surprised me the most is that even though they are brilliant actors, and they automatically understand the scene. They are a director's actor.
They are willing to listen to the director and understand the suggestions put forth.
The reason they are really successful in what they do is because they are open and willing to learn every day.
We see Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta doing things that are unconventional for an elderly couple. Did you have to convince them to be adventurous?
Not at all!
They are really young at heart, so they were up for it.
The only thing I had to do was convince Mr Kher to get on a hot air balloon.
He is scared of heights, so he wasn't ready for it.
I had to use Neenaji's help to cajole him to get on the hot air balloon. Once he got up, I think he had a wonderful experience.
He was game for the adventure with the bikers though.
We have a cultural stigma in some sense about old age and there is a certain set of expectations that we put on a senior citizen.
But there is something we have to fundamentally change, in terms of how we look at old age and growing old.
The success of Pathaan has finally broken the jinx, and now Bollywood can look forward to a surge in business?
It's amazing to know that Pathaan is doing extremely well because for the last year or so, our industry has been going though a dull phase.
We truly hope this film brings single theatres back into business.
This will help all films, not just Hindi films.
You are working on Metro Park Season 3. What can we expect from the series?
We got a great response for Metro Park Season 1 and 2, so now expectations are sky high for the third season.
We hope to start filming in April or May.
We have the same great actors like Ranvir (Shorey), Omi (Vaidya) and Purbi (Joshi). We hope to recreate the same magic and bring smiles on our fans' faces.
Film-makers tend to lean towards stories that communicate human issues, as they always strike a chord with the audience. Would you agree?
You want people to connect with your film in a way that transports the audience to the world of the characters. You want people to get on a journey with these characters they barely know.
Personally, I feel the success of a film depends if the audience carries a small piece of the character back home with them.
A lot of films are becoming content-driven, so this is a exciting time for filmmakers like us to experiment and tell different stories from different parts of the world.
At the end of the day, it's all about human emotions.
The pandemic has taught us that we have a lot more in common than what divides us.