Filmmaker Navdeep Singh says he feels lucky to have collaborated with actors who are willing to be vulnerable on screen, including Saif Ali Khan who took on an "out-there" character in his latest "Laal Kaptaan".
Described as a neo-Western, the film is set in the 18th century and features Saif as a Naga Sadhu with revenge on his mind.
"It wasn't difficult to get Saif on board. The first time he heard the narration and got to know it's a Western, he was super excited. He loves Western and said he always wanted to play something like this since he was 18. A man riding on a street, dragging a dead body behind kind of a thing.
"If you've watched Westerns as a kid, 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly', naturally you'd find those guys cool and would want to be like Clint Eastwood," Navdeep told.
The filmmaker says Saif took on the role, which might've thrown off many.
"My biggest struggle is putting up a viable project, in terms of the idea I like, with money a producer wants to spend and getting actors who are willing to be vulnerable. Saif has put himself in a very vulnerable position playing this out-there character.
"If you describe it to someone, they might feel 'no, not sure if this might work, will I look stupid with dreadlocks and a beard?'."
Navdeep, who previously helmed Anushka Sharma-starrer "NH 10" and Abhay Deol's "Manorama Six Feet Under", feels fortunate that actors in his films have always gone beyond their comfort zone.
"Anushka's character in 'NH10' was risky. She took that chance. Even Abhay in 'Manorama...', played a father. A lot of actors wouldn't have done that so early on in their career saying it'll affect their image."
The 51-year-old filmmaker has helmed three movies in his career of more than a decade. Navdeep says he cannot "design" a film, adding an item number or throwing in a patriotic moment just to get the audience to like his work.
"People ask me 'who's your target audience?' and I don't know. It's for me. I am creating this story for me, this is the movie I'd love to see. That's probably the most honest way to make films because you never know what anybody else wants to see.
"Which is why sometimes some commercial films also don't work. You can't design your film on what the audience needs like 'Oh lets insert an item number, a fight sequence and one patriotic moment'. May be they do sometimes press the right buttons but they also sometimes make the film look dishonest."
"Laal Kaptaan" is scheduled to release on October 18.