‘Kill’ Star Lakshya Defends Film’s ‘Hardcore’ Violence and Gore, Insists Movie Was Made With ‘Honesty’ and ‘Sincerity’

SPOILER WARNING: This story contains descriptions of specific scenes in “Kill.”

“Kill” star Lakshya says his mother is very proud that he’s starring in the new action movie. However, that doesn’t mean she’s actually watched the film.

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“She has seen the trailer and teaser, but she still has a little bit of a problem with me doing that level of violence,” Lakshya says. “She probably won’t ever see it. My father will. He’ll love it.”

The level of violence in “Kill,” which premiered at TIFF in September, is brutal, bloody and graphic – so much so that marketing for the Hindi-language film includes the declaration, “India’s most violent movie ever.”

Lakshya stars as an elite Army commando who boards a train to New Delhi hoping to derail his girlfriend (Tanya Maniktala) from going through with an arranged marriage planned by her parents. Things turn very violent when Lakshya takes on a gang of 40 thieves who have overtaken the train to rob the passengers.

Dozens of people are killed in the movie, many in gory detail with slashed throats, crushed skulls and gutted-out insides. In a previous interview with Variety, “Kill” producer Karan Johar described the movie as “blood porn.”

Written and directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, “Kill” will be released in theaters on July 4 by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions, making it one of the first mainstream Hindi-language movies to partner with a Hollywood studio for a theatrical run in North America and the U.K. (Days after this interview with Lakshya took place, Lionsgate announced it was developing an English-language remake of “Kill” with “John Wick” director Chad Stahelski.)

It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

“‘Kill’ is a one-of-a-kind film,” Lakshya says. “Nobody has ever attempted to make a film like this before.”

I talked to Lakshya over Zoom in June, a few hours before he attended a red carpet screening of “Kill” at this year’s Tribeca Festival.

Have you been surprised how well the film has been received despite how violent it is?

I’m a lover of cinema. I love cinema. I love watching films. I love making films. I love being a part of films and so does my director. So does everybody around me who worked on this film. We never thought of the outcome or the distribution of this film. It’s divine intervention. God was kind. He blessed us and we are here. We just made this film with utmost honesty, utmost hard work and sincerity. We were focused on making this film the way it’s written. But when we went to Toronto there was a pinch of doubt. What if it becomes too much for people to watch because there were some people who couldn’t [watch] the entire film. But also not everything is for everybody.

Do you know the body count in the movie? I tried to keep track, but it was impossible.

I think it’s 46.

This must say something about me, but I think one of my favorite kill scenes is when you crush a man’s skull with a fire extinguisher.

I was asked to smash twice and I ended up smashing five times. That speaks something about me as well, I think.

And you see his brains on the floor!

A lot of people really felt that scene was hardcore. It was something that they have never seen before. A lot of times what happens is we shy away from showing the brutality of it, the realness of it, the reality of things. So back home in India, people were so happy that we made a film where you’re not afraid — you’re bold about it, you’re courageous about it. You’re not shying away from showing the violence.

What were the brains made from?

I think it was cottage cheese. After smashing his head, the pulp is on the ground. My director — imagine a guy who doesn’t look like a killer or somebody who can write such a script — he comes and touches that cottage cheese, and he says “It’s not thick enough. Make it thicker.” I swear to God, I was scared of him in that moment. I just wanted to run away, but that’s his genius.

How much training did you have to do for the movie?

Quite a lot. We started training six or eight months prior to the shoot. No cheat days, no cheat meals. You have to look the best. You have to hit the gym twice a day, perform all the stunts. It was hard, but I quite enjoyed it.

I imagine you got hurt at some point. What was your worst injury?

It’s when I have to fight with three guys in a washroom. One guy is supposed to punch me in the face. He’s right next to me, right in front of me. He’s not even two, three feet away. He’s wearing knuckles. Imagine, I’m shitting bricks right now. I’m scared for my life. I’m like, “Anything can happen any moment.” And that particular guy was riled up for some reason. I said, “Bro, it’s acting, calm down. Don’t get into it for real.” He said, “No, sir, don’t worry.” He’s a trained fighter, but he made a contact on my face and the entire area was swollen for three, four days. I was not looking very nice that day.

A bruise like that works for “Kill.”

I was happy, man. It was like a souvenir I was wearing on my face. I was pretty happy.

What did you do after shooting all day? How did you leave the work behind for the night?

I was mentally so soaked into it that I was getting dreams of the scenes that I had shot a day prior or the same day. It was subconsciously so deep in my head that I’m seeing it happening in my dreams. I used to sleep for only three or four hours during the whole process of shooting, and I kept away from watching any sort of cinema that might make me smile as well. I would watch “Chernobyl” and “There Will Be Blood.” I was torturing myself because I wanted to feel this feeling of loss.

Are you already working on a sequel?

We are not thinking about developing anything as of now. I think it’s just we are waiting for this film to come out and see how people respond to it. And if they do respond positively, then why not plane, train, board, everything is open then.

This Q&A was edited and condensed.

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