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Gulshan Devaiah on picking Commando 3: If you don’t like a sensibility, you should make a difference- Cinema express

Gulshan Devaiah on picking Commando 3: If you don’t like a sensibility, you should make a difference to it

Commando 3 actors Gulshan Devaiah, Angira Dhar, Adah Sharma, and director Aditya Datt talk about the upcoming action thriller

Published: 19th November 2019

It’s been a year of propulsive, big-budget action movies at the Bollywood box-office. As the holiday season draws near, a new Hindi action film is here to make a killing. Vidyut Jammwal returns as supersoldier Karanveer Singh Dogra in Commando 3. The film, directed by Aditya Datt, unfolds in the UK against the backdrop of Islamic radicalisation and global terrorism. The story follows a team of undercover Indian soldiers as they infiltrate a terror group and track down its enigmatic leader Buraq (Gulshan Devaiah). Karan is joined in this mission by his partner, Inspector Bhavana Reddy (Adah Sharma) and British agent Mallika Sood (Angira Dhar). 

Aditya made his directorial debut with the romantic thriller Aashiq Banaya Aapne (2005). His genre-hopping ability — he directed the romcom Will You Marry Me?, the adventure thriller Table No. 21, and the biographical series Karenjit Kaur – The Untold Story of Sunny Leone — has landed him his first action gig in Commando 3. Aditya says he has been a fan of the Commando movies and wanted to introduce an element of narrative cohesion in the series. “I wanted the action to be purposeful. It’s still as entertaining and larger-than-life as the previous films, but also more believable. It’s important to me that whatever a character does — from running to jumping to beating people up — is motivated and reasoned. That’s what I’ve tried to bring.”

The trailer of Commando 3 packed patriotic punchlines while highlighting issues of national security and extremism. According to Aditya, patriotic fervour is intrinsic to a subset of action movies. “Why are thrillers always so scary or love stories always so mushy? It’s because these elements are part of a genre’s DNA. Similarly, a massy entertainer like Commando 3 will tend towards Bharatwad or nation-love. I’m not denying I have done that, but it’s not the sole merit of my film. It has a much broader and engaging story.”

Earlier this year, Gulshan stole praise for his dual turn in Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota. In Commando 3, he plays Buraq Ansari, an educated, upper-class British Indian planning a ‘civil war’ in India. The trailer shows Buraq sneaking around London and radicalising underprivileged Muslims using the Internet. “Buraq has grown up in the lap of luxury,” Gulshan shares. “He has never been marginalised and has no reason to do jihad. From my point of view, he is a glory-seeker who wants to go down in history for his deeds. He exploits the disgruntled members of his community for his personal gains.” 

Lauded as an indie star, Gulshan is thrilled to have explored the commercial format with Commando 3. “I got a lot of flak for Hate Story, which was also a mainstream film. Back then, a lot of established industry people lectured me not to do such movies. I believe that as an actor, if you don’t like a particular sensibility, you should try to make a difference to it. I have added my own touches and nuances to Buraq. He’s not a stereotypical Jihadist villain.”

Adah's wisecracking Bhavana Reddy was introduced in Commando 2: The Black Money Trail. She’s back in the new instalment, wielding nunchucks and taking down enemy goons. “Bhavana Reddy is the female Chulbul Pandey of action movies,” Adah says. “Audiences adored her in the previous part so we had to bring her back.” Raised in Mumbai, Adah is trained in Mallakhamba, Yoga and Kathak. She learned sharp-shooting for Commando 2 and has mastered silambam (staff-fighting) for Commando 3. “I learned the basics at a training centre in Kerala. It takes hours of practice to perfect silambam; if you miss even a beat, you will smash that melee stick in your face. I’m glad we are finally getting to showcase ancient Indian martial art forms in our movies.” 

Angira joins the franchise as British intelligence officer Mallika Sood. The actor was praised for her performance in last year’s Love Per Square Foot. Angira lists the Charlie’s Angels film series as her inspiration to take up action. “I’m a big fan of watching women fight on screen,” she says, “In India, people are opening up to the idea of female actors kicking ass. I hope makers and producers are inspired to write more female action heroes. I’m itching to do an all-girl vigilante film soon.” 

After Commando 3, Angira will be starring in Anurag Kashyap’s international film Talagh. Set to roll in 2020, Talagh charts the journey of two women across Europe and Asia. “The film’s writer (Khatira Khan) had liked my work in Love Per Square Foot. She and Anurag approached me for the role of an Afghani girl. I am learning to speak Dari, Pashto and German for the part. It’s a challenging project, with a lot of travelling involved.” 

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