MUMBAI—Vicky Kaushal and Yami Gautam are set to catch a flight to Delhi for promotions. We have no option but to speak to the lead cast of “URI: The Surgical Strikes,” that releases Jan. 11, in a very quick mode.
Excerpts from their interviews:
Q: You have had a fab year, Vicky. How does it feel?
A: Yes, I feel very grateful to God, the people who gave me work and the audience. I got to do good work and also associate with good people.
Q: What is the secret of your versatility—you essayed a pleasant Pakistani solider in “Raazi,” an NRI Gujarati with a comic touch in “Sanju” and a grayish-shaded role in “Manmarizyan?”
A: I just got the opportunity of working with very versatile directors. That is the truth. As an actor, you try to do all sorts of roles well, but when a director pushes you, it happens more easily.
Q: Was “URI” your most challenging role?
A: Of course! The prep alone lasted for seven months! I never did that before. 35 out of 50 shootings was action, and so much that I thought, “Enough, yaar! I can’t do anything more!” But now, when the release is near, I wonder when such an opportunity will come my way again! And we are sure that whatever blood and sweat we could have given to the roles, we have!
Q: How much did you know about the true story of “URI?”
Yami Gautam: About the same that all of us know via online and newspapers. We all remember how angry and hurt we were as Indians at the cruel way the attacks on a sleeping army contingent were executed. That was extremely, extremely brutal. We even met a survivor and heard the details.
But we came to know a lot more about the attacks and the surgical strikes and the defense. As actors and individuals, we realized how so many important departments came together within 10 days to execute this mission without a single leak anywhere.
Vicky: I heard the term “surgical strikes” for the first time ever. We heard of wars and clashes but when the conference happened on Sep. 19, I heard the term “surgical strike.” 38 terrorists were neutralized in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir without any of our jawaans getting so much as a scratch! So when the script came to me, the actor took a backseat and the citizen in Vicky wanted to know what had happened, and needed all the answers to my questions.
And there were surprises on every page. The pain and hurt had to be answered this time, and the entire country wanted to know what the government was doing, and whether it was doing anything at all. Despite that, our teams kept their sanity and self-control and executed such a wonderful covert operation.
I personally feel that this story should be known to all Indians. The rest is up to the audience.
Q: Were there any gooseflesh-inducing moments during the shoot?
Vicky: Every single day, especially during the haranguing prep. They would just say, ‘Oh, today was only a trailer!’ when we had worked so gruelingly. But it was also an honor to bring some real people to the screen through our acting and be those people in the movie. Outside work too, our interactions with the armed forces was so fascinating—their probation, training and missions. And when you talk to them you realize that while we may steal the limelight, they are the real heroes!
Yami: I really felt nervous just to see everything about the army around me, and choppers flying above me. Just witnessing all of that initiated a strong sense of silent pride and patriotism. I will NEVER forget those moments!
Q: How do you react to tweets that abound against our army?
Vicky: Looking at it realistically, I must say that no matter what you do, you will get every kind of view. All opinions are welcome. And I only think, so far as the film is concerned, that the best answer is in watching the film. There are temptations to reply to some of the tweets, but the best way is for those people to find the answers through the film. We really want such people to watch the film more than anyone else.
Yami: I think everything is subject to opinions, but if you are questioning and disrespecting the Army, that is not acceptable. Critical evaluation is always welcome, but in a healthy way. Lines should not be crossed, and no lines should be crossed when it comes to the Indian Army. They are much above the ladder. You just spend 5 minutes with them, and if they do not give you goose flesh, you can change my name!
Q: So Vicky, you have now played both a Pakistani and an Indian soldier.
Vicky: Someone told me, “You did a great job, going there, collecting information and then executing surgical strikes! (Laughs)