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Writer Raj Saluja on Aditya Roy Kapur’s Om: An action film with an emotional story is always able to hold its audience -Exclusive! – Times of India

Writer Raj Saluja on Aditya Roy Kapur’s Om: An action film with an emotional story is always able to hold its audience -Exclusive! – Times of India

Raj Saluja was the associate producer on Ayushmann Khurrana’s Dream Girl back in 2019. Now he’s joined forces with the film’s writer Niket Pandey and together they have written Aditya Roy Kapur‘s upcoming action fiesta Om: The Battle Within. But that’s not the most engaging part of his career. Believe it or not, Raj was a full-fledged actor and he featured in movies like Tum Mile, Dhokha, 31st October and PM Narendra Modi, before turning writer. The career shift happened through luck and foresight. Talking about his journey, he shared interesting stories and insights about how films get made in Bollywood and how destiny can change in 24 hours.

Revealing the journey of writing Om for Aditya Roy Kapur he said, “Om has had an interesting journey. We were initially writing this film for another studio and Ahmed Khan sir was involved in it back then, too. Ahmed sir said that he loved the story a lot, but since he was committed to directing Baaghi 3 back then, he offered to make it later on. At that time, Niket (Pandey), Nirmaan (Dsingh) and I were writing Dream Girl with Raaj Shaadilyaa and we were just starting off as writers. But Ahmed sir had loved the one liner and then the script of Om, as well. His thought process was that it’s rare to get an action film with a strong story. But that’s what Om was all about. It hinges on a dramatic story and the action set pieces are not the only important aspect of the film, as it is usually in other action movies. So working on Ahmed sir’s conviction, within 24 hours of giving us an assurance, Zee Studios were on-board, producing Om.”

Raj was involved in all creative processes, but he was taking the lead in the film’s production. Speaking about the casting he said, “Aditya Roy Kapur was the first person we approached with the film. Our director Kapil and I had met for another project and incidentally we had seen Malang the day before. We both felt that Aditya looked great in the jail sequence from the film. When we pitched the idea of bringing Aditya on board to Ahmed sir, he reacted positively too and said, ‘Yeh toh bahut achcha idea hai’. I’d just like to add here that the best part of collaborating with Ahmed sir is the fact that he loves to make things from scratch. He’s always open to exploring and trying out new ideas. So Ahmed sir was convinced that Aditya’s chiseled looks will be perfect for Om. He narrated the film to Aditya and everything fell in place.”

Talking about writing an action film, Raj said, “An action film with an emotional story is always able to hold its audience. Niket and I are extremely passionate about cinema and we are trying very hard to emulate our idols Salim-Javed saab and we want to make a similar impact on Hindi cinema, just like they did during the 70s.” Revealing further about his writing career he said, “We have written lots of films, there’s two new ones which will be announced this month. One of those is a rom-com and it’s a fresh concept. Regardless, of what genre we work with, we always keep a strong focus on the story, because that’s key to making a good film. A strong story is key to the success of any film. I personally feel, that’s why Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 also did well at the box-office because it had an engaging story line. I am not talking about the screenplay, but the core story struck the audience and that’s why the film has done so well.”

Nirmaan Dsingh, who has been credited for Dream Girl along with Niket, has been friends with Raj since 2010. He revealed, “We had started writing the film back then and we were writing the story with the idea of me featuring in the film as the lead actor. I remember feeling, koi aur toh acting ka kaam de nahi raha hai, toh hum khud hi story ban lete hain. Nirmaan was working with Pradeep Sarkar sir, he said he’d direct and I can be the lead actor and we can even find funds and producers and we’ll do it. I started my production house in 2015 and even then, I was slated to act in the movie. But by 2017, I had figured that no one was ready to fund the project with me headlining it so we decided to produce it. It was back then that it struck me that I should try to follow in the footsteps of my idol, Farhan Akhtar and first foray into filmmaking as a producer/writer and then later on, if destiny permits, I can even consider taking up acting again.”

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The success of Dream Girl, the kick-starting of Om with Ahmed Khan and the COVID lockdown taught Raj an important lesson. That fuelled the transition of an actor turning producer/writer. Raj said, “I learnt that my creative instincts can help my quest for survival much more than my acting career. So without brooding over it too much, I just went with the flow and gave wind to my creative spark.” Finally speaking about the prospect of working with his idol, Raj said, “I haven’t met Farhan yet, but I will pray that I meet him soon and I would love to collaborate with him in the future.”


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