TAB 220629 OM stills (2)-1656499036141

On the surface, Aditya Roy Kapur and Sanjana Sanghi’s new action thriller ‘Rashtra Kavach Om’ may come across as a testosterone-charged spectacle about a super soldier, but its lead pair claims there’s a strong thread of ‘emotionality’ running through their feature.

“And that’s the icing on the cake! At the core of it, what got me excited about this film was the emotionality that this story and film has,” said Kapur in an interview with Gulf News.

The principal cast and its director Kapil Verma were in Dubai on June 28 to promote their upcoming feature, three days before its theatrical release in UAE cinemas on July 1. This action thriller clashes with R Madhavan’s ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’ in cinemas.

In ‘Rasthra Kavach Om’, which means ‘Nation’s Armour Om’, Kapur plays the titular role of a top solider who’s on a bloody mission to reclaim his father’s reputation after his old man is brandished a traitor in India. And did we tell you that Om also suffers from partial memory loss, making his journey far more complicated and twisted.

But the proverbial silver lining comes in the form of Sanghi who plays his peer. She’s his biggest cheerleader who never loses faith in him even when the chips are down.

“It’s a truly an edge-of-the-seat visual spectacle. Sometimes, when you are on set, you don’t often realise what the film is looking like but when I went into the dub and saw some footage, I was really, really happy,” said Sanghi.

Sanjana Sanghi
Actress Sanjana Sanghi while promoting her new film 'Rashtra Kavach Om' in Dubai on June 28 Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

And just like her co-star Kapur, she was happy to show some moves and had to undergo intense training sessions to gear up for her action sequences in the film.

This is her second film outing after her debut in the tragic romance ‘Dil Bechara’, the Hindi-language adaptation of Hollywood tearfest ‘The Fault In Our Stars’. It was late actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s posthumous release, meaning her acting debut was overshadowed by that irrevocable development. But Sanghi is only looking forward.

“It was empowering to play a loyal, committed agent who takes care of the people that you are responsible for. And that’s what Kavya, my character, is all about,” said Sanghi.

The stars and their director are intent on bracketing their film as a family-drama with ‘lot of action and fantastic songs’.

So was it exhausting to play someone with someone with so much pent-up rage? While Kapur and gang believed it is reductive to slot their film into a soldier-gone-rogue category, he lets us in on a secret.

“Do you mean, I just picked up a gun and started shooting people? … Honestly, it was always my first fantasy. When I was a young boy, I was an action movie fanatic. I have always joked that my dream was never to become an actor as a kid, but to do all that stuff in real life. I wanted to have a gun, go out there, and beat up the bad guys,” said Kapur.

TAB 220629 OM stills (7)-1656499069289
Aditya Roy Kapur in 'Rashtra Kavach Om' Image Credit: Supplied

Barring ‘Malang’, it’s truly his first action adventure in his career. Kapur, who is easily one of Bollywood’s criminally under-rated and versatile actors, naturally sunk his teeth into his career’s first.

“It was a long time coming and I am happy that I got the chance to be a part of such a film,” said Kapur.

Usually such masculine roles are reserved for the likes of Hrithik Roshan, Salman Khan, Vidyut Jammwal or Tiger Shroff who exude that leading man machismo. So it will be interesting to see how Kapur will fair in a role that requires him to flex his muscles. But nobody is as confident as the hero himself.

“I think it’s easy when it’s on the page and you feel that it’s a well-written film. You don’t really have to push yourself to try and emote … You don’t have to push yourself to cry, to be angry, or to be happy. As an actor, you feel gifted when a film had it all on the page. I didn’t have to manufacture it out of thin air. Everything felt right,” said Kapur.

TAB 220629 OM stills (8)-1656499075014
Aditya Roy Kapur in 'Rashtra Kavach Om' Image Credit: Supplied

The timing of this film seems appropriate.

‘Rashtra Kavach Om’, which was earlier titled Om – The Battle Within, joins a long list of Hindi films that are designed to evoke the patriot in you and evoke a sense of nationalist pride among Indians. So are they trying to ride that popular wave?

“Patriotism is one of the very strong themes in this film. Om is trying to protect his country. But after you watch the film, you realise that it’s not the only pillar of foundation on which this film rests. There’s a lot of other conflicts that are driving the hero to make decisions that are interesting. We are not resting this film only on one emotion,” said Kapur.

This 36-year-old actor, whose breakout film was the stirring romance ‘Aashiqui 2’ in which he played an alcoholic musician, is one of Bollywood’s most promising actors. His turn as that cool and sturdy mate Avi in ‘Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani’ made him an actor to reckon with. When it comes to nailing those sensitive and emotionally-charged scenes, Kapur is a true boss.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
The cast of 'Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani' Image Credit: Supplied

But when it comes to action and stunts, we are yet to see Kapur in that pulp-fiction avatar. He underwent months of intense training — including cardio, strength, and weight training — to physically look the part of a fierce and rebellious para commando.

“It was tough because it wasn’t just the body building that was tough. It was also about learning all about action since I had never done this before. It was my most physically grueling film. But since I signed up for it, I did everything that’s needed for this character,” said Kapur. And all that effort seems to have paid off.

“It was rewarding to see yourself up there on the big screen and doing all those actions and stunts,” said Kapur. He confesses that he felt like a ‘true hero’ when he did those larger-than-life stunt sequences. While Sanghi and Kapur did the ‘lion’s share of action’ in ‘Rashtra Kavach Om’’, experienced stunt doubles were also on call for the truly complicated portions.

TAB 220628 OM Interview CE013-1656499022418
Actors Sanjana Sanghi and Aditya Roy Kapur promote their new film 'Rashtra Kavach Om' in Dubai on June 28

“There’s risk involved and so every scene had to be planned and strategised. It takes experts who put in weeks of work planning and then executing those stunts. There were intense rehearsals for it all to play out like a well-oiled machinery,” pointed out Sanghi. She likens stunt sequences to an actual science and a skill that needs to be mastered.

“It’s almost like learning dance. I have been dancing since I was a little girl and learning action choreography reminded me of my dance practices,” said Sanghi.

TAB 220629 OM stills (6)-1656499062063
Sanjana Sanghi is guns blazing in 'Rashtra Kavach Om' and plays a trained agent Image Credit: Supplied

And, Kapur jumps in and reminds us that their film has a strong emotional core and not just chest-pummeling and chest-thumping histrionics. “It’s actually a deceptively emotional film. So I was grappling with the action stuff for the first time in my career and also the emotional part. The movie was truly a new challenge and pushed my limits as an actor,” said Kapur.

Don’t Miss It!

‘Rashtra Kavach Om’ is out in UAE cinemas from July 1

Did you know?
Why was the title changed from ‘Om –The Battle Within’ to ‘Rashtra Kavach Om’? – Director Kapil Verma clears the air:
“So when the first teaser came out, it had a line about ‘Rakt Rahe Yaa Na Rahe Rashtra Hamesha Rahega’ [Whether there’s blood remaining in me or not, my nation always remains] and that really connected with the audience. So the producers felt we should filter the title. Kavach means armour and it’s a very important plot in the film. The new title works much better,” said Verma.

We will have to wait to find out … I haven’t seen the final film but let’s keep that suspense for the viewers as well

- Aditya Roy Kapur when asked if his new film would be jingoistic.

As actors, we need someone to believe in us and push us. And I am so happy it happened so early on in my career … I didn’t have the vision to think I could do action, but Kapil [Verma, director] and Ahmed sir had the faith that I could do this right. And that’s all we need! … It was pure fun to kick some behind

- Sanjana Sanghi on playing a fierce role in her second film 'Rashtra Kavach Om'

Did you know?

Sanjana Sanghi and Aditya Roy Kapur never read reviews after their film releases. The adage ‘ignorance is bliss’ works for them.