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Raj Pendurkar talks about his laugh riot Bombay to Goa


Debutante director Raj Pendurkar is very hopeful about his forthcoming flick Bombay to Goa. Denying any similarity to the good ol’ Amitabh Bachchan –Aruna Irani starrer, Pendurkar promises oodles of fun and laughter in his three-hour bus ride. Sure – with an interesting starcast that includes names like Vijay Raaz, Jagdeep, Asrani and the Great Indian Laughter Champions!
How much is your Bombay To Goa inspired from the Amitabh Bachchan starrer Bombay to Goa?

The only thing common is the name, and the journey. Nothing else!

Are there any shades of the Marathi film Navra Mazha Navsacha?

No. I have seen that film, and I think it is very nice. But my film has nothing to do with this one. The script of Bombay to Goa is very different – in terms of the way we were looking at it and the way we wanted the characters to come out.

So makes your Bombay to Goa different?
There is nothing different. Bombay to Goa is very basic. It is about regular people, normal people. And we are trying to get humour out of them. The story is about two lives – Lal and Das. Lal is played by Sunil Pal and Das is Vijay Raaz. Lal is a very ambitious guy, a dreamer, who wants to become big in life and start his own business. There are people, you give them 5000 rupees and ask them to start a business like a vada pav centre. And they start having dreams of having a chain of restaurants. So Lal is just like that – he is a dreamer and always thinking about doing something big in life. Das is a loud-mouth, a very arrogant kind of a person. He is a driver who used to work in BEST. His boss irritates him, and eventually he leaves the job. Lal gets Rs. 2 lakhs by winning some contest. The duo plans to put up a business. Das comes up with an idea to start a travel agency. But they don’t have enough money. They just have 2 lakh rupees and these days you don’t even get a Maruti car in 2 lakh rupees so how will they get a bus? So they plan things out and go to Chor Bazaar. Using spare parts of old cars and imported cars, they create a bus. Lal has no idea about what the bus is going to look like. He just gives the money to Das and says I trust you, go ahead with it. Das asks Lal to get the passengers for the bus on a particular day. Lal tells everybody that we have this palace-on-wheels coming up. He gets 15-16 passengers. He gives them a discount claiming that you’ll get the best bus service in the world. But when the bus comes in, it is a madhouse, and people demand their money back. So Das comes up with an idea, saying that this is a pick-up bus and we can get passengers on the highway. Finally, they try to persuade passengers on the way and carry on with their journey.

More...Is it an out-and-out comedy then?

Considering there are so many characters, is the story fully character-driven?
Yes the film is completely character driven. All the actors are great performers. It is more of a performance-oriented film. You won’t see the director or anybody else. You will only see the actors and their performance which is great.

Does the bus journey have characters from all over India?

Yes, in the film – the characters are from all over India. But they are settled in Bombay, and heading to Goa.

How did you manage such a huge star-cast?

I don’t think it was a big problem managing them because everybody was a professional. I just went up to them and read out the script asked them if they would like to work for this kind of a concept. They said yes and became a part of it. They all come on time and work like professionals. It is not at all difficult to manage them. I have seen people making bigger stuff than Bombay to Goa and I have seen directors handling many more people than this – not only in films but also in theatres. Whenever I go and watch theatre performances, I see actors and performers who are double the count than what I have in my film. Everybody here comes from a very professional background so I never faced a problem.

What was the biggest challenge for you as a debutante director?
No, I think I have been extremely lucky. When I started I was a little worried about what’s going to happen. But the amount of support and cooperation I got from everybody really made my job easy. My cameraman, my producer Humayu Rangeela, the screenplay and dialogue writer, the creative head Rahul and all the actors – everybody was there to help me out. So I got through very easily. It was just great.

Did you have any memorable or funny incidents while shooting?

The funniest thing for me was when I was giving orders to people… saying action or giving them directions because they all knew what is to be done. The way we have written the script and put everything together makes it all funny. Sanjay Mishra, Tinu Anand, Raju Shrivastav, Sunil Pal, Vijay Raaz, Ahsaan Qureshi, Asraniji, Deepak Shirke – when you have these people around every moment on the set, it is funny. They are on all the time! You have to be very alert and you have to know what you want from them and to get into the right track and bring out the point. That is very important. Otherwise, every moment was funny. I can’t single out one.

Your idea behind casting the Great Indian Laughter Challenge guys – Raju Shrivastav, Sunil Pal, Khayali, Ahsaan Qureshi etc.
I didn’t have to think twice before casting them. I knew I was making a comedy film and I am friends with these guys. I have also worked with Raju and Sunil before. I had the script ready then. I spoke to my producer and told him that they would fit the roles. So we just went and met them and they all were ready to do it. Besides the Laughter Challenge guys there are also other great comic performers.

And who amongst these is the funniest?
They all are very funny. But Raju Shrivastav is one of the best comedians right now. He has been doing a lot of films and he has performed very well in mine. Vijay Raaz of course will be somebody you will love to watch. And Sanjay Mishra – onscreen, off screen, everywhere is a laugh riot.

What was the idea behind having look-alikes of the entire cricket team in the film?
We all love cricket and all the Indians worship these cricket players. When these people lose, we get frustrated with them. We all know it is difficult to go and play on an international level. But we all have an opinion, like, why Sehwag is not shuffling or using his legs in frontfoot or backfoot. So this Indian cricket team also gets on to the bus. That is the scene where we are trying to get the audience’s emotions to the brink. The idea behind it is that Greg Chappell has asked the team to go into the jungle and do commando training. The bus is passing through the jungle and that’s where the team gets in.

So the Indian cricket team doubles will be seen only in one scene?
Yes, one or two scenes.

Finally, a word about your future projects…
Honestly I want to try different genres and I want to do different films. Since I have done a comedy film right now, I will be avoiding doing a comedy film again for the next two-three years. I will try to do something which is more serious, like thrillers.

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