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This article was first published 1 year ago  » Movies » 'Liger Is Kickass, Sir'

'Liger Is Kickass, Sir'

August 24, 2022 15:54 IST
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'Our hero is strong and you must have seen the mother, she is stronger.'
'And Mike Tyson is the strongest!'

IMAGE: Vijay Deverakonda and Ananya Panday in Liger.

Puri Jagannadh, known for potboiler blockbusters in Telugu cinema, goes pan-India with his bilingual directorial Liger.

Ananya Panday, he reveals, was not the first choice for the role.

"I am a big fan of Srideviji, so I wanted to cast Janhvi Kapoor. But she was not available on those dates," Jagannadh tells Contributor Mohnish Singh.

The first of a two-part entertaining conversation:

In what way is your third Hindi film different from your past two films, Shart and Bbuddah... Hoga Terra Baap?

Even I don't know (laughs).

The technicians and story-wise also, it is very good.

Liger is full of action.

Basically, I am a writer.

I wrote this story 10 years ago. When I narrated this idea to Vijay Deverakonda, he was very excited.

I narrated two stories to him actually, but he liked this one better.

He said, 'I want to do this one. I will work on my body. I will become a fighter. So, please, make this one with me.'

So the other story has been kept on hold?

Yeah, I have many stories.


IMAGE: Charmme Kaur, Vijay Deverakonda, Ananya Panday and Puri Jagannadh. Photograph: Kind courtesy Charmme Kaur/Instagram

Even before the film made any noise, it was promoted as the biggest film of the year. Do you feel the pressure?

Initially, we thought we need to promote Vijay, we need to promote the film...

But wherever Vijay and Ananya are going, whether it's to the malls or different cities, the crowd is coming in huge numbers. So we are relaxed, actually.

They went to Pune, Patna, Vadodara, Chandigarh, and all these places, and the crowd's response is amazing.

In some places, people are waiting for a 9 pm event from 3 pm.

They have watched Arjun Reddy and since then, they have been showering their love upon him.

IMAGE: Vijay and Ananya take Liger to Punjab. Photograph: Kind courtesy Ananya Panday /Instagram

What went behind the idea of casting Mike Tyson and Ananya Panday?

See, when Vijay Deverakonda and I wanted to do this film, we knew the budget is going to be huge because there are too many fights and international MMA.

We needed to shoot with the foreign crowd and we needed to import foreign fighters.

So anyway, we were spending, so why not make it a pan-India film and show it to all the states at the same time?

So we collaborated with Karan Johar.

After listening to the story, he was the one who suggested Ananya Panday and Mike Tyson.

We used to discuss, 'This is a Mike Tyson kind of a role. We need an actor like him.'

So we thought why not approach him?

We got that idea after a few months.

Then we approached Mike Tyson and it is not an easy job to get him on board.

It took us one year to sign him.

IMAGE: The Liger team. Photograph: Kind courtesy Charmme Kaur/Instagram

Did you have any other title in mind apart from Liger?

The working title was Fighter, but in many states, many people registered the title already.

So I thought of this alternate title.

Did you never think of making it in Telugu first and then remaking it in Hindi?

No. All these years, I did the same thing.

I have made almost 40 movies in Telugu.

IMAGE: Puri Jagannadh, Vijay, Charmme Kaur. Photograph: Kind courtesy Charmme Kaur/Instagram

Before Ananya came onboard, was there any other actress on your mind?

I am a big fan of Srideviji, so I wanted to cast Janhvi Kapoor. But she was not available on those dates.

The kind of feedback big budget films today are getting is not positive. Do you think that will be a problem?

No, we are not worrying about anything.

We know our content is very good. It's kickass.

Once I finished the movie, I arranged a premiere for many of my friends.

Even 40-50 people from Dharma Productions watched it.

All of them loved it.

They did not find anything to correct in it at all, so I am very happy.

In Liger, Vijay Deverakonda's character stammers, and there have been polarising reactions to that. Was it a conscious effort in your script? What was your brief to him because such things can go wrong?

Yes, it was a conscious effort.

Once I got the idea that I wanted to create a role with a disability, I thought of many disabilities. I thought stammering was interesting.

I made this script keeping in mind the stammer.

There are scenes where they insult him and you know, he will go through a lot of pain and all.

So stammering is an important element of the film.

Did you make a conscious effort that it should not be portrayed in the wrong way because people can be sensitive to something like that?

No, no, I don't feel like that.

Even in Censor, a few people did point it out and asked us to mute some words.

IMAGE: Mike Tyson, flashing the victory sign, meets the Liger team. Photograph: Kind courtesy Charmme Kaur/Instagram

Just like your hero in Liger, Mike Tyson also stammers. Was that an inspiration when you wrote the script?

No, it is just a coincidence.

When we thought of Mike Tyson, we also thought, 'Oh, even he stammers in real life.'

Why did you choose Dharma Productions as co-producers of the film?

Arre, Karan Johar is a king, sir.

I will tell you how it happened.

Basically, I like Karan Johar a lot.

When he saw Arjun Reddy, he liked Vijay and he told him, 'If I get any nice script, I will pitch it to you and if you come across any good script, bring it to me.'

So when I narrated this script to Vijay, he told me what Karan Johar had told him.

Immediately we called him and came here (at Dharma Productions), narrated the idea, and the collaboration happened.

The story is simple.

I will tell you what it is: A mother wants to see her son as a national champion in MMA. They are from Banaras.

They come to Bombay.

In the meantime, Vijay's character falls in love with a rich drama queen, that is Ananya Panday.

The plotline is simple, but the characters are very strong.

Our hero is strong and you must have seen the mother, she is stronger.

And Mike Tyson is the strongest!

All the actions are designed in such a way that they are best.

For this movie, Vijay went to Thailand and trained for a month with a fight master called Kiccha.

I have worked with him in the past. He is an amazing guy.

He designed the action sequences.

One action scene is designed by Andy Lon. He is from Germany and he has worked with Jackie Chan's assistant.

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