Vishnuvardhan, the Tamil filmmaker who is all set to make his Hindi debut with the upcoming film Shershaah, spent almost two months researching the 1999 Kargil War and talking to soldiers who fought alongside Captain Vikram Batra, on whom the film is based.
The film starring Sidharth Malhotra and Kiara Advani is a biographical drama based on the life of the Kargil war hero. It is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video on August 12.
Talking to Silverscreen India, Vishnuvardhan said, “We have only seen footage of the Kargil war so I had to do my homework. It was very important for us to know what actually happened on the field. I had to be sure about how I was going to show the war. So I met with a lot of officers who had fought in the war. It took me a couple of months to meet all of them. Everyone is currently posted in different places like Amritsar, Chandigarh, Kashmir, and Bangalore. So we had to travel almost all over India to meet people.”
“The writer of the film, Sandeep Srivastava, and I met General Joshi and Vishal Batra, captain Vikram Batra’s twin brother, and his family,” he added. “They helped us meet all the officers who fought by him for us to understand what happened on the field and what kind of a person he was. We also met his friends from Palankpur, where he was born and brought up, and Punjab University, where he studied. We did extensive work to understand Captain Batra’s journey from a simple man to the legend he became, because that’s the focal point of the film.”
Shershaah is produced by Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar, and Apoorva Mehta under the Dharma Productions banner, and Shabbir Boxwala, Ajay Shah, and Himanshu Gandhi representing Kaash Entertainment.
The film was shot in Kargil at around 14000 ft and the conditions were difficult each day, said the director. “We could not film at the exact 16,000 ft location they fought in which has absolutely minimum oxygen. But we did manage to get the terrains somewhat similar to how it was described to us by the war veterans.”
“Initially, we were supposed to shoot in Kashmir and Ladakh. However, due to some tense situations, the Indian Army offered to let us shoot in Kargil instead and it was a blessing in disguise. We shot a film based in Kargil, entirely in the same place. We could not have made this film without the Indian Army’s support,” he added.
On what made him choose this script for his Hindi directorial debut, Vishnuvardhan said, “It was very exciting to make this film because the story was something I was familiar with and plus, it is on the Indian Army. I don’t think I could have gotten a better script to make my debut with.” Revealing that he was earlier approached for some remakes, he added, “But this story made me explore much more than I could have with any other script.”
While the director is happy that the film will reach everyone around the world with its OTT release, he does feel a little disappointed about it not making it to the big screen. “Everybody wants a theatrical release because of the way it is shot and of course the darkroom magic is completely different. However, with platforms like Amazon Prime, the reach is increasing. We were already due to release last year so I am happy that it is releasing now.”
Vishnuvardhan also revealed that he is set to collaborate again with Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions. However, he did not provide any other details about this project.