By Sajid Nadiadwala (BOMBAY TIMES; January 19, 2013)
When the story of Heropanti was developed by my director Sabbir Khan, for the first time, all my associates strongly voiced that here was a script that required someone raw. Their suggestions made creative sense. My commercial apprehensions, which may have been a roadblock, surprised me by taking a backseat. It was perfect timing then, that Jackie Shroff’s son Tiger dropped by at my office. Just like his name, his presence overpowered us. We instantly concluded that we had found our “hero”.
I intentionally delayed the signing process of the 20-year-old, since Jackie was travelling and I wanted both — him and Ayesha — to be present during their son’s much-awaited moment. As the elated father took pictures of his son signing on the dotted line at my office, I found my eyes moist with memories of 1983 when Subhash Ghai’s Hero, had created hysteria for Tiger’s dad. Day by day, we discovered, that there was more to Tiger than just a six pack. He shyly showed us the versatile videos that he had shot revealing his dancing and action skills. Our outdoor test shoots flaunted a fan following for the newcomer. As girls drooled and autograph hunters crowded him, the pedigree of illustrious parents was already public property.
The only hitch the Gen Next icon-in-the-making encountered, was when we suggested that he chop off his long locks which he was so attached to.
So we intruded upon the young mane meticulously, instructing the stylist to trim it, in phases. So that the kid who had grown up, letting his hair down, could confidently love his new look too. Which suited the character he plays in Heropanti. During this journey, I found myself on test too. More than launching a new face, suddenly I feel I am launching myself too.
Turning back the clock 15 years, when I regularly played football as the formidable goalkeeper, I remember Jackie at a celebrity soccer event, introducing me to his five-year old son saying, “Brother, you play so well. Henceforth, you must also coach my son.”
Who realised then, that this was a prophetic signal from Providence. Since the past nine months, my entire production machinery has been compassionately coaching the same child his star-father had entrusted to me.
For me, it will be a heroic moment to watch the cub grow and reign, in the years to come. So that I can look back nostalgically, to where it all began. The football field. Where we are expected to keep kicking, till we start scoring…