(L-r) David Ayer, Will Smith, Head of Original Films at Netflix Scott Stuber, and Joel Edgerton attend the LA Premiere of Netflix Films ‘BRIGHT,’ Dec. 13, in Los Angeles. (Rich Fury/Getty Images for Netflix)
It was a short trip but “Suicide Squad” director David Ayer found time to roam the streets of Mumbai and discover his love for ‘cutting chai’ in the Chor Bazaar, which he quaintly referred to as the ‘thieves market,’ writes Bedika.
The director, who arrived in Mumbai for the India premiere of his Netflix sci-fi crime thriller “Bright” with lead stars Will Smith, Joel Edgerton and Noomi Rapace, loves cities and Mumbai bewitched him with its “energy.”
“I just went to the thieves’ market and everyone was drinking it (the tea). I already had two,” Ayer said as he sat for an interview over a glass of ‘cutting chai’, which translates into half portion of tea and is sold on street side stalls in Mumbai.
“I really want to shoot a movie here. It is an amazing city. I love it. The energy, the people, it is incredible. In a lot of ways, India is the future. It has evolved so much so fast,” he told PTI.
When pointed out that it would be difficult to shoot in the crowded streets of the Maximum City, Ayer said, “It is hard to shoot anywhere. Use the crowd.”
Ayer’s affection for Los Angeles, the city he grew up in, is visible in most of his movies be it “Training Day”, which he wrote, or films such as “End of Watch” or “Street Kings.”
He returns to the streets of Los Angeles in “Bright” but this time, he has introduced fantasy elements to tell the story. In this alternate modern-day Los Angeles, elves, humans and orcs live side-by-side.
“It is the city I grew up in. It shaped and created me in a lot of ways,” Ayer said, when asked why Los Angeles and its police department fascinated him so much.
“The story of Los Angeles is also the story of the police department, if you follow the history of the city. The department has evolved and is in a good place today.”
The director said with any other producer, it would have been hard to shoot on real locations as they often recreate the sets in places that offer tax rebate.
“It is hard to find places to shoot in the city. But Netflix lets you shoot where you want to. I wanted to be able to choose where I wanted to shoot the movie and it happened to be LA.”
In the film, out on Netflix on Dec. 22, Smith plays a racist cop who has to cope with his orc partner under the department’s diversity drive. They eventually overcome the distrust to become friends and save the world from ruin.
“It is about Joel’s character. He simply wants to follow his dream but he is blocked because of the way he looks. The message of the film is that ‘everybody should be allowed to be who they want to be’. The fantastic elements make it easy to watch,” the director said.
Two cops sitting in a car is one of the most popular images in cinema and Ayer said he used the familiar element as a doorway to tell a different story.
“Familiar is to make people comfortable. This film goes to a lot of crazy places but ultimately it is about the relationship, humor and the love these two characters have.
Humor enables deeper drama, it makes it funnier to watch a film without exhausting the audience.”
Asked whether he has thought about a sequel for the movie as Hollywood is all about cinematic universes now, the director said he would love to take the story forward.
“It is a big enough world and there is a lot to explore.
Let us see how the movie does and if the audience wants more.”
Having already collaborated with Smith on “Suicide Squad,” Ayer knew the Hollywood star would be perfect to play a tough cop in “Bright.”
“He is tough and he is funny. You believe that he is a cop and there is a light to him. He is a lot of fun to work with. Also, he has been making movies for a long time and has an instinct for acting and films. He gave me ideas on the sets.”
Edgerton, who is also a successful writer and director, was someone Ayer wanted to collaborate with for a long time.
“I wanted to work with him and he was crazy enough to say ‘yes’. It was a difficult role for him as he would be the first on the sets for the make-up, which took three hours, and he would be the last one to leave as removing it was another exercise.”
“Suicide Squad” may have been panned by the US critics but fans loved the movie and made it a success at the box office. Ayer is now developing a spin-off with “Gotham City Sirens” with Margot Robbie’s character Harley Quinn.
“They were really mean,” Ayer said talking about the reviews.
“But it did very well. It (the spin-off) is in development and let us see what happens,” he added.