Another interesting casting that caught our attention was Tiger’s guru in the film. Where did you find him?
Oh that was a tricky one. Where would I find an actor to play a 70 year old Kalaripayattu guru, someone who would eventually train Tiger’s character and be the guiding light to him.
I was very worried that I’d have to cast an actor and make believe that he knew the art and was as fit as a teenager, I was scared of falling flat on my face.
Fortunately as my team was doing all the research on Kallari we came across Grand Master Shifuji. If you Google him he has many shining talents to his credit and I would not be able to do justice to him by mentioning only a few.
I want to credit Sajid bhai on introducing him to me for some in-depth research on Kallari. At first I wanted him to come board just as a consultant and mentor to Tiger for the Kallari part.
But as we spent a lot of time together and went through the physicality of the art form I started thinking what if I cast him. It couldn’t get more authentic than that. And Shifuji is an amazingly inspiring man in real life.
I told Sajid bhai my intention and though he was skeptical at first he came around to the idea sooner that I thought because genuinely we were worried about who could play that part.
When I told Shifuji what I was thinking he said ‘I am not an actor’ I said you leave that to me just do what you do and be yourself