Ranbir Kapoor’s ‘Shamshera’: ‘It Brings the Indian Hero Back,’ Says Director Karan Malhotra (EXCLUSIVE)

“Agneepath” director Karan Malhotra’s epic “Shamshera” is gearing for a theatrical release in a post-pandemic moment when audiences are flocking back to cinemas.

The film is set in the fictitious city of Kaza in the 1800s, where a warrior tribe is imprisoned, enslaved and tortured by ruthless authoritarian general Shudh Singh (Sanjay Dutt). It tells the story of Shamshera (Ranbir Kapoor), an enslaved man who became a leader and then a legend by relentlessly fighting for his tribe’s freedom and dignity. The film will be Kapoor’s first release since 2018 smash hit “Sanju.”

“Shamshera” marks the first action oriented role for Kapoor, while Dutt is riding a wave of acclaim for his turn as the antagonist in “K.G.F: Chapter 2,” one of the biggest Indian hits of 2022, alongside “RRR.” Those two films were originally made in the Kannada and Telugu-languages respectively and also became huge hits in their Hindi-dubbed versions with audiences responding to their larger-than-life storytelling and heroism. “Shamshera” promises to be the first current generation Hindi-language film to capture the zeitgeist that “K.G.F: Chapter 2” and “RRR” celebrated.

“I’m a huge fan of the big, magnificent yesteryear Hindi films. I do feel somewhere we’ve lost the interest or the excitement of retelling stories of that world,” Malhotra told Variety. “Not only as a filmmaker, as an audience, I really miss that genre. I have just come back to that. ‘Shamshera’ is a classic Hindi cinema experience of 2022-23.”

Malhotra echoes Dutt, who misses the golden age of Bollywood heroism to the point where he has launched a production company to bring back the genre.

“As far as Sanjay Dutt is concerned, ‘Shamshera’ ticks all the boxes for him. He’s really been missing the adrenaline rush and the hero-villain confrontation and the action that used to happen in our films,” said Malhotra. “It definitely brings the Indian hero back and it also brings the Indian villain back in a big way. But, it has been crafted in a way where you do not feel that you’re watching old wine in a new bottle. ‘Shamshera’ will come across as a genre of its own.”

Malhotra adds that Kapoor’s image in the film is a “100%” new and different. “Ranbir has never done anything like this and I feel lucky to be the first filmmaker who’s going to project him in this world, with the look that he has in the film, with the catharsis that he follows,” said Malhotra. “Our emotions are all extreme – we’re not subtle people, we don’t believe in subtle emotions. Ranbir has projected that extreme nature of our sensibility in the film in a beautiful way. So he is definitely going to offer his fans and to the ones who don’t expect him to be seen in films like these something very, very new and very, very strong.”

“Shamshera” is produced by Aditya Chopra for leading Indian studio Yash Raj Films. It releases in India and the more than fifty international territories where Bollywood films release day-and-date on July 22. There are plans for a wider global rollout after that.