Ranbir Kapoor is the flavour of this month, or should we say this year? The actor returns to the screen after a long break with two mega productions — Yash Raj Films’ Shamshera and Ayan Mukerji’s Brahmastra. The trailer of Shamshera was launched recently, which presented Ranbir in a double role. In an interview, film’s director Karan Malhotra breaks down the trailer and explains its most important scenes. He also talks about the bond he has with his Shamshera actor, and has a special message for him as Ranbir and wife Alia Bhatt announce their pregnancy.

Karan, who has directed Hrithik Roshan in Agneepath earlier, presented a new facet of Ranbir as an actor in Shamshera, a dacoit drama set in pre-Independence India. “Directing Ranbir was a very new experience and enriching experience as he is a new-age actor. He is an actor who internalises a lot, you see that in all of his performances. He is not a loud actor, he is not out there, but my cinema is exactly that. He has really worked hard in imbibing my sensibilities into his performance and give it his best. Once, I went into his van and told him that I need to talk to him, to which he asked, ‘tu daantne toh nahi aayaa mujhe? (have you come to scold me?)’. I said ‘no’, but in Shamshera, I needed a ‘sixer’ from him in every shot.”

But if Ranbir is not the loud actor that a dacoit drama would otherwise need, why cast him? Karan says that Ranbir brings in freshness that is unexpected.  “Ranbir brings in the freshness to Shamshera that an actor rarely brings these days. What is unique about Shamshera, and why the trailer has been received well, is because Ranbir is not an usual suspect for a film like this. For example, you would not think of Hrithik Roshan for Agneepath at that time, you wouldn’t think of Rishi Kapoor as Rauf Lala (in Agneepath) at that time or think of Sanjay (Dutt) to be a villain at that time. So, I think, I enjoy those challenges, and for me, it is almost a pattern that I repeat, otherwise a film would not have a kind of newness and discovery, where would that come from?”

Karan believes with Ranbir in the cast, Shamshera is more contemporary. “Because Ranbir is a new generation actor, so when he enters into my world, he makes it new. He gives it a new twist, he makes it more contemporary despite of the film being set in a different era. So, that is of great value to a filmmaker like me,” Karan adds.

The filmmaker also shared that Shamshera wasn’t exactly easy on Ranbir, because, “it is not Ranbir’s world”.  He shares, “I am very thankful to Ranbir for sticking with it as it was not an easy film for him. He could easily opt out of it saying, ‘yeh mera world nahi hai’. I followed my instinct and he really made it his world and really went all in. There were two Ranbirs on set, one was before action and one was after action, and we could see the divide very clearly. He played Shamshera with utmost madness and played Balli with even more madness.”