Hollywood superstar Brad Pitt was in Mumbai last night at the premiere of his new film War Machine. Joining him was Shah Rukh Khan and the two hit it off from the moment they sat down to discuss acting, cinema and Netflix – the online entertainment company that has produced Brad Pitt’s War Machine and two Palme d’Or contenders at the Cannes Film Festival this year: Bong Joon Ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Collected).
Shah Rukh Khan and Brad Pitt had a discussion on a range of topics and when they were not talking serious stuff, Shah Rukh Khan was showing Brad Pitt how easy it is to dance in Bollywood.
“I just spread my arms and do nothing, that’s a step,” Shah Rukh quipped.
On being asked why he chose to collaborate with Netflix for War Machine, Brad Pitt said, as quoted by The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s because the way the studio system is right now in Hollywood. It just can’t support risky films like this, of this budget certainly.”
Speaking on the future and potential of Netflix which allows one to stream movies, television shows and comedy specials straight to his/her laptop, PC, tablet or smartphone, Brad Pitt said, “The beauty of Netflix for the film viewer is that now more films are getting made, more interesting filmmakers are getting a chance which means a greater variety.”
While praising Netflix, Brad Pitt felt also said that a film’s success cannot be measured by how well the film did in the opening weekend. He added that the longevity of a movie cannot be determined by that yardstick alone.
“I have seen many good films being dubbed failures… some have been found later in time and some go away,” he said. Netflix, he feels, negates that aspect altogether and he is glad for that.
Shah Rukh Khan agreed with Brad Pitt and said that the problem of major studios not wanting to invest in experimental fare is a universal one.
“When I (started my career) 25 years ago, I wanted to make the films I wanted to, but you have to be part of the system,” Shah Rukh Khan said.
“Netflix can be a great opportunity (which can) offer unknown or upcoming directors more chances… In India, every household has a singer, but I think every household also has a filmmaker,” Shah Rukh Khan added.
When Shah Rukh Khan was asked about the challenges he faces, being a superstar, to portray characters in Bollywood, he said, “You can’t really get into a character if you have to do song and dance every 20 minutes. It’s not like Bob Fosse or All That Jazz.”
Shah Rukh Khan also told Brad that he became a fan of Brad’s work when he saw the films, 12 Monkeys and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
“That’s when I became a fan of you as an actor. I would ask you to continue with those kind of roles,” said Shah Rukh Khan.
“That was insanity,” said Pitt about Twelve Monkeys, “I just locked myself in a room for a couple of weeks to see how crazy we can get.”
One of Brad Pitt’s best performances comes in the David Fincher-directed classic Fight Club which has acquired a cult status over the years.
When addressing if any of his roles changed his life, Pitt praised his friend Fincher’s “great piece of writing” and the “irreverent” nature of the film.
“While making it, we just laughed, much like War Machine,” he said.
And finally, the inevitable question came; would Brad Pitt like to work in Bollywood?
“I would never make it in Bollywood because I can’t dance. I just can’t,” the 53-year-old actor admitted immediately.
Shah Rukh Khan then assured him that it is no big deal and he could teach him a few steps. Pitt said, “It would be my first and last film”, if he had to dance.
SRK jokingly added that India needs to have song-and-dance routines so that actors like Brad are kept away from Bollywood. When Pitt said, “I can’t sing either,” Khan added that neither can he and that he relies on lip-syncing and singers.
Brad Pitt also said that he loves India. In fact, this isn’t Pitt’s first trip to India. He travelled with his erstwhile wife Angelina Jolie who was shooting A Mighty Heart in Pune. Pitt said he had fond memories of riding the Royal Enfield and exploring the city.
War Machine, directed by David Michod, and based on the non-fiction book The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan, releases worldwide on Netflix on May 26.