Hot on the Wheels

With a rise in action movies, car suppliers in Bollywood have a hectic time sourcing rare models and modifying vehicles for action sequences, only to send them back to junkyards

For a film set in Kolkata's crime world of the '70s and '80s, the production team of Yash Raj Films' Gunday needed for its protagonists Bikram and Bala — played by Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor respectively — a car that would belong to the period. It needed to be flashy enough to be owned by the mafia, and in running condition for chase sequences. When Lal Balooch, a car supplier for Bollywood, received the request, the choice narrowed down to Chevrolet Impala. However, only few of these old cars, a status symbol in the '70s, are available in running condition in India, and even fewer that can be used for action sequences. After much search, Balooch tracked down a garage that had the near-junk remains of Impala and over the days that followed, his team rebuilt the car.

Action no longer revolves around the hero and the baddies alone. Filmmakers Abbas-Mustan and Rohit Shetty have taken the trend of action sequences beyond car chases — with vehicles that fly, topple, burn or blow up. Sourcing cars, a job that was earlier on the periphery of filmmaking, has therefore become a full-fledged profile in the last few years. Agents such as Balooch often spend days together to source the required vehicles.

Ejaz Gulab of action director duo Javed-Ejaz explains that the model of the cars used in films depends, for most part, on the script. If the film is contemporary, it is easy to source the cars, which are often rented. "But if the scene requires the car to be destroyed, we buy either new or second-hand cars," adds Feroz Shah, a supplier who purchased a second-hand Sonata and Gypsy for the drowning sequences in Talaash. This, he says, explains why the budget of films with elaborate action sequences is so high.

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