“Vadh started off with an idea that ‘an old man commits a murder’,” says director Jaspal Singh Sandhu – Exclusive – Times of India

Most filmmakers tend to play it safe when it comes to their directorial debut. However, Jaspal Singh Sandhu chose the path less trodden with his maiden venture Vadh, that is currently making waves on the OTT space. Starring Neena Gupta and Sanjay Mishra in lead roles, the movie is a stark tale of injustice that eventually drives an old man to commit an unpardonable crime. In a freeling chat with ETimes, Jaspal takes us through the process of creating this heartbreaking saga…
How did the idea of Vadh come about, considering it is not a run-of -the-mill commercial potboiler?

I had only one idea stuck in my mind, that was ‘an old man commits a murder’, a headline that I had previously read somewhere and instantly knew I had to do something about it. Infact, when my co-writer and I were working on the script, the first draft actually ended at the murder, but I thought no, there has to be more, which is when the final script started taking shape.

Often in Indian cinema, we tend to paint characters as black or white. Shambhunath Mishra (Sanjay Mishra’s character) is neither and yet, both. Was it difficult to portray that on screen?

No not really, since we shaped up the character in the scripting stage itself and it developed organically from there. From the outside, the character is as mediocre as it can be – mundane lifestyle, a sadistic loan shark troubling him now and then, yet Shambhunath Mishra carries on in his life, even if with plain drudgery. Yet, when something dreadul happens, and that same loan shark tries to harm a young girl that he tutors, it is then that he loses it, committing a vadh (annihilation).

When the movie came out, there were talks about it being vaguely reminiscent of Drishyam?

See, when it comes to a premise, all films with a common genre will look or sound somewhat similar – a boy and a girl falling in love will remind everyone of Romeo and Juliet. In this case, the only common ground is a murder and the cover up bit – the story and emotions woven around the same are drastically different. Moreover, I had not seen Drishyam, so references if any, are purely incidental.

Neena Gupta and Sanjay Mishra are already such nuanced artists. How did you bring out an even better actor out of them?

Honestly, I did not have to do anything. To give you an example, before we started rolling, I simply told Neena ji that her character suffers from knee pain in the movie, and she held on to that bit throughout the shoot, even at places where it was not needed. Similarly, Sanjay Mishra was extremely engrossed in his role, more so because his father’s name was also Shambhunath Mishra in real -life. We faced challenges like shooting in 46 degrees in a city like Gwalior, yet the entire cast and crew pulled together to make it work.

You are taking an offbeat path again with your next – a horror film?

It is not really horror – rather it is a grief horror story, set in the 1950s, a tale that is extremely heartbreaking, more on the lines of experimental/world cinema. I have already completed 70% of the screenplay and it should be out soon. Apart from that, there are some crime comedies in the pipeline.

Vadh, co-starring Manav Vij and Saurabh Sachdeva is currently streaming on Netflix.

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