It was a regular audition for me, part of an actor's job, I had been called to audition for one of the character in a film being made by Kamal Sadanah. "What's the film about?" I asked, the casting director replied "I cannot disclose, but it's a big film".
I was called for second round of auditions, that's when I met Kamal and Abis Rizvi, I was asked to audition again, then again, then yet again, then for another character in the film, then along with an actress and then finally Mr. Sadanah asked me if I can wait for another actress who is on the way. My reply was" yes sir, that's my job"!
I remember Kamal Sadanah's first call, he asked me to come over to his office to get an idea of what he was making, curious and wanting to know I rushed to meet him the next day, my first reaction was "seriously"? "Tigers? Sunderbans? We are shooting in a no man's land?"
It was followed by numerous visits to his office and each visit was learning for me, I had too many questions owing to my scientific background, I was curious to know how would we shoot with tigers? I knew I was rushing but the excitement won't let me calm down! What amazed me was the research Kamal had done on tigers, Sunderbans, special effects and many aspects of making a film.
Two months after my first audition, as we sat in Kamal sirs office sipping tea I was handed over a white envelope on which it was written ARF (Abis Rizvi Films), and Abis sir had smile on his face while he apprised me that I would be playing PUNDIT, the main character of the film. I was very excited, but then i wasn't expecting they will offer me that role, playing the main lead was no joke, I had to prepare myself!
"I had a lot of questions and as its pundit who drags his crack commando team into the jungle chasing a beast, he is on a two day mission and literally he is responsible for the all the mess, and most importantly is it justified to kill a beast to revenge death of his brother? Jhumpa who questions Pundits mission is also the one who Pundit starts liking and one who endures with him. The character was a test of me as an actor. I have been acting for 4 years, have done many popular commercials, and noteworthy roles on Indian television, but this was big and there is no room for error. The workshops and numerous sessions I had with director were instrumental in making me understand PUNDIT better.
Shooting in Sunderbans was like a dream job for me, I am an outdoor person, have been part of International Survivor series, actually had been in survival situation and take pride in calling myself a Bush Life Expert, have trekked the Ghats, the Deccan plateau, Shivaliks and the Himalayas but being in Sunderbans was like a distant dream and that too in the core territory of man eater tigers.
"It wasn't easy shooting for film, we were up at 0300 hrs IST will shoot all day in silt and mud, wet and drenched in saline water, feet wet all day long, a rifle and pistol strapped to us all the time, steering boats in meandering canals just wide enough, would stay in a room the size of 5ft X8 ft, workout with weights from jimmy jib ..It was a tough shoot, but for me the tougher it is the more fun. It is the first time I have worked on a project involving a massive VFX and CGI, and I can vouch now we are lucky few to work on next level of filmmaking in India. Team of ROAR has been working hard and perseveringly, I can literally put it as Abis Rizvi's courage and Kamal Sadanah's vision result of which is a fine masterpiece: ROAR