‘Hello Charlie’ gorilla had to be breathtaking: Ritesh Sidhwani
Actors Aadar Jain and Elnaaz Norouzi will appear in the upcoming comedy film Hello Charlie , but it is their ‘co-star’, Toto the gorilla, who seems to be getting a lot of the attention.
The film’s co-producer Ritesh Sidhwani says that to ensure that the gorilla looked convincing, the team invested nine months hunting for the perfect gorilla suit. Finally, they got what they needed in Los Angeles, along with the artiste who would wear the suit and dress up as Toto in the film.
“It was the script that got us interested. When (director) Pankaj Saraswat narrated the script to us, we were rolling with laughter with what he had put in there. A man who scams the country of Rs 15,000 crore and decides to escape the country as a gorilla sounded absurd but it was damn funny. The job of transporting him from Mumbai was given to this simpleton (Aadar Jain), who comes to Mumbai to get a job. So, it was an interesting road trip with the gorilla,” said Sidhwani.
It took the film’s team nine months to get the suit, necessary permissions and the artiste Garret to India. The team that has worked in “Hello Charlie” is, incidentally also the team that worked in the Hollywood blockbuster franchise “Planet Of The Apes”.
“The gorilla had to be breathtaking. In India, we don’t have access to such suits because it takes 100 to thousands of dollars to build such a suit. The guy who performed as the gorilla is also very important. So, I told him (Pankaj) that you need to make a trip to LA and I need to send my executive producer with you. Then the team eventually started contacting people there,” said Sidhwani.
“A lot of gorilla films have now moved to CG in Hollywood. During the first film of ‘Planet Of The Apes”, everyone was in these suits but as the time passed only the guy who plays the main ape is in the suit. Everyone else is CG-created. But we wanted a suit because we had to tell the audience that there is a guy in the suit who is trying to escape. So, it took us a few months in LA to find the right suit, then the right performer who can play the ape, because he was used to play an ape inside the suit. In our film, he had to do both. He had to play a human inside the suit as well as play an ape. It took us time to adapt,” shared Sidhwani.
He added: “A lot of research went into it. It’s not a job that can be done by any kind of performer. It has to be authorised by the acting guild in the USA and there are only a specific number of people who can perform in such a suit. We had to be sure that the audience liked it, especially the kids, because they are the main audience.”
What kind of specifications went into getting the gorilla suit? “We had to get the suit, and adapt it as per our film, we had to customise the head because it had to be removed in certain parts. We then waited for the suit to come because at the time we found it, it was on sets of other Hollywood films,” he says.