Ali Abbas Zafar
Director of Tiger Zinda Hai, Sultan

I wanted a beautiful place, and at the same time, I wanted it to be dramatic enough to inspire an action sequence. Also, there’s a love song between husband and wife… It’s a very picturesque small town—Innsbruck. So all these reasons were a driving force to go to Europe and look for a location, which we finally found in Austria.

The wolves came from Budapest. There’s a guy called Zoltan who has trained animals for filming. He had wolves, wild boars, bears, white bears, etc. He has a big facility in Budapest, just outside the township. When I wrote the script, it was always somewhere in the northern lands… And obviously, when you live in the middle of the mountains, the only two creatures that could attack you are either bears or wolves. So that is how the wolves came into the picture. Also, when you’re writing a mainstream commercial picture like Tiger Zinda Hai, there are certain tropes of screenplay writing that you use, like the introduction of your main character. The idea was that, because he’s in hiding now and he’s staying in the forest, it should be with some kind of wild creature who can attack.

For Greece, most were local Greek dancers who came from Paris since it’s a heavy cultural city. We wanted certain kinds of dancers. And that requirement came from the choreographer. We wanted acrobats, cyclists, and dancers/devoyeurs. These are different forms of modern contemporary dance. The best bunch of those that are available in Paris.

You have to be very careful about knowing what the neighbouring countries can offer and where the equipment can come from. We used a lot of heavy cams, Russian arms, which are these heavy-duty, action-oriented technical things that might not be available in a city or country, and we might have to travel all the way to the border area. That’s a very common practice, especially in Europe, where most of the borders are open. Like our caterer, he came from Hungary to facilitate our schedule with an Indian crew. And an Indian crew wants Indian food. The closest Indian caterer was available in Hungary. I learned about this guy when I went to shoot in Budapest for Sultan.

The whole film was based on wrestling. Budapest is actually the wrestling capital of Europe. It’s known for having one of the best Georgian and Hungarian wrestlers. And they usually do a lot of world championships there. So the idea was that they go there for a world championship, and then they go and look at the city.

When you’re in Greece, a lot of things kick in because of the Mediterranean Sea. Europe also changes a lot between the east and the west—whether it’s the culture, whether it’s the temperature,… Cinematically, it changes drastically. And all those things, as a filmmaker, fascinate you. Because it’s one big continent, which can give you various kinds of geography and topography to shoot.

When you look at a location cinematically, it needs to create a wow factor on camera and on screen for an audience. I feel that the script and location together are a great mixture, because what happens is that as soon as you place your character in a certain location, a lot of things come to life—what are they like, how will they behave? Like, if you suddenly put a character in the freezing cold and you do a romantic scene, and then you pick up the same character and put them in an extremely hot desert to do the exact same scene, the scene will change. So that is what a location can do. It affects you culturally and emotionally.

A love scene written in the middle of a snowstorm and a love scene written in the middle of a sandstorm will be completely different. Whether it’s a song or a dance, what beautifully works in Europe is the light. There is a certain angle that the light has in Europe. That light can make things look bizarre—in a good way or a bad way. My fascination with going to Europe is mostly for the light, visual clarity and depth.

Interview Extracts
Search 100+ European locations analysis in Indian cinema

Press Enter / Return to begin your search or hit ESC to close

New membership are not allowed.

All Rights Reserved. © 2024 India Europe Film Connections. Terms and Conditions