Sometime in 2010, in the midst of a discussion that revolved around the booming business of the illegal purchase and sale of liquor that continues in the underbelly of the dry state of Gujarat, filmmaker Rahul Dholakia first conceived the idea of ‘Raees’.
“It was meant to be a docu-drama, but went on to become an indie film. The material kept pouring in. The more time we spent in creating the world of the bootlegger, the more elaborate the story became,” says Rahul.
Ask him how the film transformed into a masala movie, and Rahul says, “The writing decided the fate of the film. My co-writers and I visited a lot of pockets in Gujarat and met with people in the business to understand the milieu. Once the story was complete, I met Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani who decided to back it. When they got SRK on board, it just became a lot bigger and then took this shape.”
Rahul says he was obsessed with the nitty-gritty. “It was challenging to strike the balance between creating a palpable world on the tapestry of realism. Every element like the prop, costume and artistes, have been paid attention to. I sent my assistants to every market and pol (colony in Ahmedabad) to shoot a regular day,” he said.
Though Rahul didn’t write the script keeping Shah Rukh in mind, he was ecstatic when the superstar gave his nod. “He says it’s good to be bad and there are few people who can play a negative role with as much panache as he does.
Somewhere in between the 40th and the 50th draft, I knew it had to be him. He brings that dramatic edge with the affability that the character needs. I never let his presence intimidate me. On the first day, he asked me to join him for lunch but I passed the offer since I eat with the unit. 10 days later, he joined us and ever since, it’s been a party.”