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Vishal Bhardwaj on ‘Khufiya’: Changed gender of character for Tabu

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‘Khufiya’ is inspired by true events and based on the popular espionage novel “Escape to Nowhere” by Amar Bhushan

‘Khufiya’ is inspired by true events and based on the popular espionage novel “Escape to Nowhere” by Amar Bhushan

Filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj on Monday said he always seeks reasons to work with friend-frequent collaborator Tabu and his upcoming film “Khufiya” is a testament to their “love”.

The Netflix film reunites the actor with the director, following successful and acclaimed movies such as “Maqbool” (2003) and “Haider” (2013).

“Khufiya” is inspired by true events and based on the popular espionage novel “Escape to Nowhere” by Amar Bhushan. Produced and directed by Bhardwaj, the film also stars Ali Fazal, Wamiqa Gabbi and Ashish Vidyarthi.

During the Netflix’s Films Day event, Bhardwaj said he flipped the gender of the protagonist, originally a male character in Bhushan’s 2012 book, because he didn’t find it “exciting” enough.

“The film is based on Amar Bhushan espionage novel ‘Escape to Nowhere’, the character was male but it was not that exciting for me. When I thought of Tabu, the excitement was more and I changed the gender of the character. I found a reason to work with Tabu and I got that,” the director told reporters here.

Tabu said whenever she reads a script penned by Bhardwaj, she feels it is written only for her.

“Whatever script he will write, he will think of me only. If another actress does it, that will be a different thing, but the story will be written for me only,” she added.

Asked what the secret is behind the actor-filmmaker creating magic on screen, they said it was love.

“I have been in love with Tabu for many lifetimes,” he replied.

“It is only love,” she added.

“Khufiya” presents the story of Krishna Mehra (Tabu), a R&AW operative who is assigned to track down the mole selling India’s defence secrets while grappling with her dual identity of a spy and a lover. The streamer also released the first-look teaser of the film today.

The director said he wanted to make a slow-burn spy thriller which revolved around an intelligence officer who spends their life covertly.

“The films that we have made with the espionage genre… the spy, thriller and assassin thing comes up and we have something like ‘Bourne Identity’ or ‘The Gray Man’. The slow burning of an intelligence officer, like how their life is, how they have to stay in the shadows… That was very interesting for me,” he added.

While many films have been based on India’s external intelligence agency R&AW (Research & Analysis Wing), Bhushan’s novel gives a detailed and dramatic look into its functioning, said Bhardwaj.

“Our agency is over secretive. We have seen many films on their working pattern. When I read the novel, I felt it was unique. The detailing is so beautiful dramatically because it is based on a real case which happened in 2004.

“So, the detailing was fascinating for me. To bring a film and create or add drama, fiction and reality into it was interesting for me,” he further said.

The director said his filmmaking process is a combination of “basic homework” and “spontaneity”.

“When actors like Tabu, Naseeruddin Shah come on sets, they bring magical moments on screen. However, basic homework is important. We often changed things on sets, and in this film too, we changed things. Spontaneity can come only when you are prepared. One can also make a wrong decision while being spontaneous,” he added.

There are a number of factors she considers before boarding a project, said Tabu.

“Scripts that have relevance for me to be doing it, the characters have to be interesting, who is the director, whether I am understanding the character or not.

“With every film, the factors change. Sometimes, you want to work with a director or co-actor. Or the role is so different, something you have never done before and that I must do it as it will help me grow in my craft,” she added.



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