The singer, composer talks to OTTplay about his reluctance to act on screen, the intriguing casting process that ensued after that and the momentous first shot.
When Raghu Dixit was approached to play a crucial character in Baang, his response to that wasn't the most ideal one. "I was initially angry because I felt the team was being stupid in wanting to cast me instead of someone who knows how to act," he says. The casting coup, as it were, was done by Baang's director Sree Ganesh Parashuram and the film's music composer Ritvik Muralidhar, who is also part of the cast and has been involved in almost every stage of development. Raghu Dixit has previously worked with the composer in the capacity of a singer so when he heard from Ritvik again, he believed it was about another singing gig.
"Normally, you don't have meetings, so to speak, for playback singing because composers usually come with the song and sign you on. But when Ritvik revealed that he was meeting me not for a song but for an acting role, I ended up scolding him initially. Turns out, they had watched me perform with a guitar in some live show and felt that if they replaced the guitar with a gun in my hand, I would look incredibly menacing! "We can't imagine anyone else, sir. We have had you in mind since Day 1," is what they said and they persisted with that for close to a month-and-a-half until I agreed eventually. Several attempts were made during that time and I turned down the offer each time but I eventually gave in," shares Raghu Dixit.
But why was he so against the thought of acting in a film? As someone who has donned multiple hats over the years - from being a dancer, a microbiologist to a singer, music composer and also a film producer - the idea of playing a character on screen needn't have been all that appalling to him.
"Two reasons for that, really. I was battling myself on one end and wasn't in the most comfortable situations mentally at the time. On the other hand, I wasn't sure if I wanted to be seen as a gangster on screen. Acting is not really my forte even though I know I can emote because of my background in classical dance. The main concern, though, was that I was looking after my health at the time - I had just started working out and taking up something new like this meant my routine would be messed with. But Ganesh promised me that he would need only 8 days from me and that my routine would not be disturbed at any cost. Once I agreed, I told him that on Day #1 of my shoot, if he were to feel that I was miscast in the film, he must come and tell me that directly, and I would gracefully step back. I didn't want Ritvik to suffer because of me because I really love that boy," he adds.
And Day #1 turned out to be quite the momentous start for Raghu Dixit who reveals that his very first shot in the film involves him slapping someone! "I went feeling a little 50-50 on the first day, kinda expecting them to fire me (laughs)! But the first shot went extremely well, even though it was quite an intense scene - I was to argue with my daughter inside a church because she creates some kind of ruckus and I get mad at her and slap her. After the shot, I went around asking everyone on the sets for feedback and they were all like "Sir, you look great, you are perfect" and all that. It was Ganesh who then showed what I had performed on the monitor and I realized I actually look good on camera! After that, I began to enjoy it and it was all good fun," says Raghu.
Another footnote to this particularly intriguing casting story is that Raghu Dixit hadn't read the script until a week prior to the shoot. "They didn't come to me initially with the script but only told me that they want me to play a gangster in the film. The moment I heard gangster, I said "Get out". But eventually, I got the script but only my portions, meaning I did not know where my portions would fit in the scheme of things."
Raghu Dixit plays a character named Daddy in the film with Shanvi Srivastava essaying the role of Leona in the film. Baang promises to feature slick action and lots of drama and the film arrives in cinemas on August 18.