Siddharth Anand says despite having Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan on board in his upcoming action drama War, he would not have moved ahead with the project had Tiger Shroff said no to the film. War chronicles the story of an Indian soldier, Khalid (Tiger), who is assigned to eliminate a senior agent and his mentor Kabir (Hrithik) as he has gone rogue.
Siddharth, who worked with Hrithik for their 2014 action film Bang Bang!, said he wrote the two lead parts keeping in mind the two actors.
"The first choice was Hrithik because we share a great equation. Post Bang Bang!, I've been writing something for him. Fortunately for me, he loved the script. I knew, if Hrithik is in the film, the protege can be no one else but Tiger," Siddharth told PTI.
"If Tiger hadn't done the film, it would be tough for me to make this film. I may have just scrapped the idea to rewrite something else. There is nobody who could replace Tiger in the film," he added.
Siddharth said the idea of "War" came to him post Bang Bang! when he was travelling. He picked up a habit which he didn't have earlier: reading books. "During 2015-2016, I travelled a lot and was intrigued by the genre of spy thrillers and I picked up a lot of books of top novelists. The idea of the film came from there. It opened my imagination to conflicts, characterisation, drama and plot points.
The film's screenplay, written by Siddharth and Shridhar Raghavan, was a tough one to crack, he said.
"The challenge was to showcase elements which don't give a feeling of deja vu. It's important for a thriller because you just have that many plot points left. We knew we have the top stars of the country, great visuals and songs. So what mattered was what's on paper."
War is touted as one of the biggest action films of recent times in Bollywood and Siddharth said when he sat down to visualise the set pieces, he realised the job cannot be done by only one action director.
"It was important to identify key action sequences and bring in different action directors and make it their responsibility. We brought in four action directors and gave them four set pieces. "So they could push themselves and bring in their take. Which was also kind of competitive because they knew someone else is doing the other job. That worked out very well for the film."
War has been shot in Portugal, Italy, Sweden, Finland and the director said it was of prime importance for him to make the set pieces and locations distinct from popular Hollywood action films.
"In action, you've only that many things you can do. There's a bike, car and plane chase. So the setting matters the most because you've seen all of this in films. So we set the bike chase in a mountain, so that there's a thrust for speed.
"We had a car chase in the Arctic, on ice. So it was a challenge from a visual spectacle bit. I'm a very visual director, the locations become a character in my films. We had to find these locations and make them unique."
War, which also features Vaani Kapoor in a pivotal role, is scheduled to release on October 2.