Aadar Jain on Amazon Prime Video comedy Hello Charlie: 'Hope the audience like my spontaneity'
'People were sceptical about the unconventional plot until I met Farhan Akhtar who flipped on the subject,' says Aadar Jain, who makes his second onscreen appearance with Hello Charlie, an Excel Entertainment comedy premiering on Amazon Prime Video this Friday.
Aadar Jain’s debut film Qaidi Band, a tale of undertrials met with a lukewarm response at the box office, and after four years he will make his second appearance with Hello Charlie, a comedy. “My character is a simpleton, he comes from a small town, and he is a goofy, quirky, animated cartoon kind of a character. He is a little clumsy,” says the actor.
Helmed by writer-actor-director Pankaj Saraswat and produced by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar under the Excel Entertainment banner, the film will premiere on Amazon Prime Video India this Friday.
The film is touted to be an adventure of a small town truck driver who forges an unlikely friendship with a gorilla named Toto and is given the task of transporting Toto from Mumbai to Diu, “and what transpires then is what makes for a hilarious tale,” says Jain, for who the challenge was to bond with the animal to make their interaction look fun and easy onscreen.
“For prepping I had to learn how to be with the gorilla, hang around and chill with him. There was a team from LA (Los Angeles) that was handling him. Initially I was a bit hesitant and scared. Being up close and personal with a gorilla was frightening in the beginning, He is such a big creature but later on I realised he was very responsive to acting. He is well-trained and we bonded well, we had a great camaraderie both, on and off-screen,” he says.
“My journey for this film started when I met Ritesh Sidhwani in 2018 and he told me about this story they were trying to develop. He just gave me one or two lines and then I met Pankaj sir and gave a couple of auditions. He felt I had that simplicity and innocence of the character and thus I was roped in. We had several acting workshops to understand the rhythm, comic timing and spontaneity. Pankaj sir wanted us to read the script, understand the character and forget and be a blank canvas once we went on sets. He has given so many hit comedy shows and he knows better. He used to work on our comic timing, energy that was required among all of us. The whole process and the experience has been amazing. I hope the audience likes my comic timing and spontaneity. There are many memorable moments working on this film. Dancing with the gorilla was a great experience, the gorilla rehearsed with me for three days before we shot the song. I hope kids enjoy the movie and they are entertained through the film,” Jain further adds.
Incidentally, the film, with its core idea albeit with a different storyline was developed by writer-director Pankaj Advani over a decade ago and after Advani’s demise his friend Saraswat chanced upon the script sometime in 2012. “The script was with me for more than seven years. I kept working on it, there were many drafts written, re-written and in a very organic way haalat (situation) kept changing. How best to do the film took its time. People were sceptical about the unconventional plot until I met Farhan Akhtar who flipped on the subject,” says Saraswat.
“The film is a situational comedy; comedy is part of the plot. But it is not just a comedy, the film is also a satirical story and throws light on what is currently happening in India. Gorilla and other comic stuff are in the packaging but it is essentially a satire,” adds the director, who in the past has directed many television comedy series including the hit The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. “It was a lot of fun shooting the film but it was also quite tough shooting with the gorilla even as he is trained. Taking him in the truck and taking permissions for the same was a task,” he said.
This film marks Shlokka Pandit’s debut vehicle and it also stars Jackie Shroff, Elnaaz Norouzi, Rajpal Yadav, Girish Kulkarni, Bharat Ganeshpure, and Siddhanth Kapoor in pivotal roles. Shroff plays an integral part of that of a billionaire who tries to flee India disguised as a gorilla while Jain’s character becomes his ‘caretaker’. “I don’t know much about comedy. I just believed in my director, I had complete trust in him because he’s someone who has brought comedy on Indian television and he knows what he needs from his actors. But it was something else working with the ape, and then you have over 200 countries watching you in one go, all that was exciting,” says Shroff.
And Jain cannot stop gushing about the senior actor. “After working with Jackie sir I have become his bigger fan. I've known him for many years now even before I became an actor. I met him the first time when I was assisting Farah Khan for Happy New Year. I always wanted to share screen space with him. So, to finally get the opportunity to work alongside him was really special. He is a very inspiring man, watching him was a great learning experience. He's a rockstar in the truest sense and hands down the coolest person,” says Jain.
Norouzi, who shot to fame through her performance as Zoya Mirza in the internationally acclaimed Netflix web series Sacred Games says she agreed to do the film because her character is important to the plot. "And the makers actually liked me in the audition. We often hear people asking how much screen time you are getting, what you are doing in the film and for me I always wanted to do something in the film and not just look pretty. If you remove my character what is going to be left of the script, I look at it this way. It is great that now we have a lot of content that matters, the writers have more work, the actors, technicians have more work. But for every actor individually it depends what you want to do. It doesn’t matter if the film is on OTT or cinema,” said Norouzi. “It’s a dream come true for me as I have always wanted to be part of this industry. Also, debuting with a comedy is quite rare and I am happy about that. I play a dancer, she is extremely feisty, emotional, all heart. It was fun and a very different project,” adds Pandit.
Lastly, Jain hopes there won’t be another big gap between his releases. He, however, sounds thrilled with the response he has been getting for his upcoming release. “We shot Hello Charlie in 2019 but due to the pandemic there has been an even bigger gap between my two releases. But I am happy that all the response for this film has been positive so far..from friends, from families, and children are really connecting with the film as some kids have been asking me, ‘Charlie, where is Toto..?."
Hello Charlie will release on Amazon Prime Video India on 9 April. Watch the trailer here —
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