Vishal Bhardwaj’s Khufiya is out on Netflix. In an interview with The Indian Express, Vishal said he started working on the film back in 2016 and wanted the late actor Irrfan Khan as the lead. He also opened up about the difficulty of raising money for a movie headlined by ‘any female star’, even someone as prolific as Tabu, adding not every one gets big budgets like filmmaker Rohit Shetty. Also read: Khufiya movie review
Khufiya earlier had a male protagonist
When asked about him making a comeback to films after five years with Khufiya, an adaptation of Amar Bhushan’s novel Escape to Nowhere, Vishal said, “It isn’t by design that I took five years… Though I started working on Khufiya in 2016, the first draft was ready in 2018. At the time, it had a male protagonist. I wanted to work with Irrfan, who was unwell. After he passed away, I thought of changing the gender and making the film with Tabu as the protagonist. The budget I required for this wasn’t available for any female star. But Netflix gave me the confidence to make the movie that I wanted to make.”
Vishal Bhardwaj and Tabu have collaborated before for the critically acclaimed 2014 film Haider, also starring Shahid Kapoor, and the 2004 film Maqbool, also starring Irrfan in the lead role.
Vishal on why he took so long to make a film
The filmmaker further spoke about how, when his last film, Radhika Madan and Sanya Malhotra-starrer Pataakha, released in 2018, he was working on an adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981). Vishal said he ‘worked intensely for over a year on that’. However, before he could start shooting, the plug was pulled.
Then, he was making a series on IC 814 (the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight 814 in December 1999) for Prime Video. But after the Tandav controversy – the 2021 Saif Ali Khan series was accused of hurting religious sentiments – Prime Video ‘developed cold feet’, Vishal said.
On raising money for films
When asked that even though Tabu is considered a powerhouse performer, was it difficult to raise money for Khufiya, Vishal said not everyone can work with big budgets like filmmaker Rohit Shetty.
He said, “It is the reality of the market. If I want a budget like a Rohit Shetty movie, then I must deliver a hit like him. This is something we artistes should accept. We all have our limitations, even Rohit Shetty. He can’t make a film like Christopher Nolan.”
Khufiya, which stars Tabu, Ali Fazal, Ashish Vidyarthi, and Wamiqa Gabbi, among others, was released on October 5.