A Minute with Vijay Krishna Acharya on “Dhoom 3”

December 21, 2013

Vijay Krishna Acharya wrote all three films in India’s only action franchise – the Dhoom films, and directed the latest one. Fashioned as slick action thrillers in the mold of “Ocean’s 11” or “The Fast and the Furious”, the films always star an intelligent thief – an anti-hero who is too smart to be caught.

Opening this weekend to record-breaking ticket prices (three times the normal amount of a multiplex ticket), “Dhoom 3″ features Aamir Khan as a bank robber. Acharya, 45, spoke to Reuters about the film, why he wanted to shoot it in Imax, and what it takes to write a good anti-hero.

Why did you want to shoot “Dhoom 3” in Imax?

I have been a keen watcher of Imax films abroad, and always thought that we should experiment with the format. With this film, I had the sets, the locations and the story that lent itself to this kind of treatment. The audience that is discerning, and has been exposed to such films in the past, will definitely appreciate the IMAX experience.

Your films make a hero out of the bad guy. Why is that?

It happened like that. You make a film, and that film takes a life of its own. But the good guys – Abhishek (Bachchan) and Uday’s (Chopra) characters also have an important place in the franchise. They define the equilibrium in society – you cannot say that illegal activities and a life of crime are fashionable or glamorous. But I have to say, there is some joy and more rationale in the story of the pursuit of the intelligent criminal. That’s part of the visceral appeal of the films.

As a writer, what does it take to create an anti-hero who is essentially the driver of your story?

In all three films, the anti-hero is a guy who is believable – so I have had a lot of fun writing these characters. Abhishek and Uday’s characters have remained constant, but since their opponents changed, I could explore their psyche more.  My villains are not sitting in smoke-filled dens, plotting against the hero. In that case, there would be no empathy, and there has to be empathy if the audience has to invest their emotions in this guy (the anti-hero).

So is redemption for the way to gain the empathy of the audience?

I like the idea of honour, even in crime. I like the idea of dignity. When you are watching a film like “Dhoom”, it is somewhat of a guilty pleasure that you like the bad guy. So if there is redemption for him, it redeems me a little bit for liking him. In Dhoom 2, Hrithik’s character gives up his life of crime for love, so there was hope for him. With John, it was the challenge of no ever catching him, and his pride in that. I would like to believe that there will be redemption for Aamir’s character in “Dhoom 3” as well.

Dhoom 3 has developed into a franchise that commands a huge degree of equity in the market. Does that add to the pressure?

I don’t look at figures at all. I know I should, but I don’t. We made the film because we thought there was a way to take the story forward, and honestly that is why the film was green-lighted. I want the film to do well of course, but right now I am not thinking of box office numbers.

When making a Hollywood-style, slick action thriller for Indian audiences, do you have to customise some bits to make it more palatable to their palate?

I don’t know. I always feel that song and dance, if done right, is very gratifying to watch. But the “Dhoom” franchise is about the slick action sequences and not so much about the masala element, and people have accepted it in the past. My hunch is that if you don’t plan your film around what your audience might like, it will work better. If you please too many people, you will please no one.

(Follow Shilpa on Twitter @shilpajay| Disclaimer: This article is website-exclusive and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission)

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/