Saif Ali Khan is getting to do a variation on one of his favourite films, the George Roy Hill classic Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In Bullet Raja, director Tigmanshu Dhulia has relocated the original buddy film's concept from the Wild West to Lucknow.
While Saif plays one of the trigger-happy protagonists, the talented Jimmy Sheirgill plays the other lead in Bullet Raja, so named because of Saif's character's penchant for firing bullets and riding the Bullet brand of motorcycle.
"Saif and Jimmy are akin to Paul Newman and Robert Redford's roles from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Irrfan comes into the story midway as a ruthless cop who is summoned to stop Saif's no-holds-barred outlawry," said well-informed source close to the project.
Bullet Raja portrays Saif as the fastest gun in Lucknow, the source added, saying: "And he loves it. He is exploring the adventurous royal side of his personality, firing guns, screeching down dusty roads on his trademark Bullet mobike, looking for a new adventure every day."
Saif is completely into getting out of his cultured accent and royal habits to get a hang of the colloquial Uttar Pradesh dialect.
Said Dhulia: "Saif is really enjoying himself. He is the only star-actor after Aamir Khan, who has the draw and the ability to get completely into character. I am his dialogue coach on location here. I brief him very closely on how to deliver his lines. He listens, absorbs, and practises the dialogues till he gets them just right."
Dhulia feels Saif is well-read enough to imbibe any character, no matter how alien to him.
"He posseses a world-view, has a sound knowledge of music, literature and the fine arts. He has taken possession of Bullet Raja's character. He lives the role even when the camera is off. He wants to know what the character is doing when he is not in the frame. That kind of dedication I got when Irrfan played 'Paan Singh Tomar'."
"Bullet Raja" is a massy actioner with Sajid-Wajid's populist numbers peppering the proceeds. If sources are to be believed, Saif and his co-star Sonakshi Sinha would be jiving to "Pak chik pak raja babu", a popular Govinda number from 1994 film "Raja Babu".
Interestingly, most of Dhulia's films so far have been Uttar Pradesh-based.
"So many films are being shot in and around Lucknow. Abhishek Chaubey and Sudhir Mishra are coming here for 'Dedh Ishqiya' and 'Mehrunissa', respectively. I am coming back for 'Milan Talkies' right after I finish 'Bullet Raja'. There's no reason why I can't make films in Uttar Pradesh."