Vipul Shah loves bringing plays to the silver screen and he is doing the same with his new film "Action Replayy". The hit Bollywood filmmaker feels it is a successful proposition as theatrical productions are a testing ground for scripts.
"I have been adapting my plays for the screen. My first play that was adapted into a movie was 'Aankhen'. Then I adapted Aatish Kapadia's play as 'Waqt'," Shah told IANS in a telephonic interview from Mumbai.
"The 'Action Replayy' script was with me for a long time. I was not finding the right budget to do it. I finally had the technology and budget to make a film of this kind; so I decided to do it," he added.
Has taking plays to celluloid become a fascination?
"No. I just pick up these scripts because these are what I believe in. I believe that if these are presented first on stage, they can achieve greater success and greater heights as movies. It is not a new trend. It has been so the world over. Films have been adapted either from books or from plays.
"And plays already make a good platform for the test run of a script. You already know the parts that have been loved by the audience and appreciated. So it's very easy to adapt these into a film," he said.
Theatre is his first love, but movies have kept him busy for years. Recently he returned to the stage after a gap of 14 years with "Bas Itna Sa Khwab", his fifth theatrical work. Starring his actress wife Shefali in the lead, it is a Hindi version of the famous Marathi play "Dhyanimani".
"Action Replayy", on the other hand, has been based on his 1994 Gujarati play by the same name.
Penned by Kapadia and with Akshay Kumar and Aishwarya Rai in the lead, it is a time-travel comedy capturing Mumbai in the 1970s. Produced and directed by Shah, it also stars Neha Dhupia, Randhir Kapoor and Rajpal Yadav in pivotal roles. It is releasing Friday.
So are there any sci-fi elements in the movie to support the time travel?
"No. It is fantasy, not science fiction. That's the biggest difference. Indian audiences are not very keen to see science fiction. Fantasies work. If I have to give a reference point to 'Action Replayy', it would be 'Mr. India', which was not a sci-fi but a fantasy," said Shah.
" 'Action Replayy' is a fantasy in the world of romantic comedy and a romantic comedy in the world of fantasy. It is about what happens if you get an opportunity to relive your life. The film starts in 2010 and goes back in the 1970s," he added.
Romantic comedies are Shah's forte - he gave hits like "Namastey London" and "Singh Is Kinng" with his favourite actor Akshay.
"Camaraderie with Akshay has grown with time and it has become bigger and better. I hope to continue my relationship with Akshay and make some really fantastic cinema with him."
With "Action Replayy", the filmmaker presents Akshay and Aishwarya for the first time as a romantic couple.
"In 'Khakee' (2004), they were not a romantic pair, but in this film they will be romancing each other. They bring a lot of freshness and terrific chemistry on screen," said Shah.
He is tense about his movie's fate at the box office.
"Apprehensions will be there till the audience gives its verdict. We will be tense, nervous with sleepless nights while waiting for the release. But our expectations are high. We have really worked hard and tried to make a product to entertain the people. There is a festival bonanza on Diwali and that is the expectation that we are hoping to fulfil," he said.
Shah's future projects are "Kuch Love Jaisa"; a remake of Tamil hit "Kaakha Kaakha" with John Abraham; an outing with Abhishek Bachchan; another with A.R. Murugadoss and "Singh Is Kinng 2" with Akshay.