Movies & TVSpooks: The Greater Good Interview with Bharat Nalluri

Spooks: The Greater Good Interview with Bharat Nalluri


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With Spooks: The Greater Good being released on DVD and Blu-ray today, I sat down with Bharat Nalluri who directed the film to talk all things Spooks, Torchwood and Life on Mars.


Andrew: Hi, Bharat. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today.

Bharat: No worries.

Andrew: Tell us a little bit about yourself and why you became a director.

Bharat: Why I became a director? Ah, good question. I basically saw Star Wars when I was twelve years old in 1977 in Newcastle, and it blew my mind. It was the first time I worked out there was such a thing as a director and learned how people actually made movies. I remember reading an article in the Sunday Times magazine that my dad was getting, and it was a behind the scenes of how they made Star Wars. I couldn’t believe people actually made this stuff. I then stole my dad’s Super 8 camera from under the bed without telling him and started making little films with my Super 8 camera.

I was at school with a mate of mine called Paul Anderson, and he and I started making little films. Now Paul has gone on to become this huge mega A list Hollywood director. He writes and directs and owns the whole Resident Evil franchise. He and I kind of started off together in Newcastle making those little films.

I think my parents always wanted me to be a doctor, coming from a good Indian family, but I kept spelling it incorrectly on all my forms and writing director. That’s kind of how it started, really. That’s the family joke anyway.

Then the films got bigger. I went to film school, blah, blah, blah, and one thing led to another, really.

Andrew: In your own words, tell us a little bit about Spooks The Greater Good.

Bharat: Well, Spooks The Greater Good is our chance to turn the TV series that we love and made over the last ten years that were like new movies every week into what we really want to do, which is this big, explosive, rip-roaring, roller coaster ninety minute ride in London. The shackles were taken off in a way. I mean, Spooks was always known for being big and having big action set pieces, but we’d shoot those in two weeks and we used to work very hard at how we could achieve the thing. We had all these huge ideas in the TV series people talked about doing them. In the movie you were allowed to do them.

That was very exciting. The pallet that was given to us … This really big, large pallet where we could go on and paint big pictures, but on the flip side what I really liked was … We were then forced to make something like … We were still at an intelligent, exciting, grey like … The characters … You know, Spook has always been praying for it’s heroes being villains, and it’s villains being heroes, and it’s very rare to be able to do that in cinema. That was the great thing that we could do this character fueled action thriller, and I think that’s what audiences should expect.

We were very careful to make sure that the TV fans that were incredibly loyal around the world … Tens of millions of them around the world … Wouldn’t be let down by the movie, and we were also very keen to actually if you’ve never seen the TV show that you wouldn’t feel left out or lost. That was our aim to do.

Andrew: I think it paid off well. I really enjoyed the film.

Bharat: Oh, good.

Andrew: Did you feel any pressure because this was the first time that Spooks had been on the big screen? As you’re saying, it had been around for a number of years. Did you feel that pressure or was it really not there?

Bharat: No, because I’ve always known … I started this movie, and this wasn’t the first bit of TV I did. When it started in 2001 I was making movies in America, and I came back to do the Spook show, because it was a brilliant script that I came across. My idea was always that it was a movie on television, and I think that’s why it stood out to start with. It just had this grand scale. We saw it in a very different way. We used more cameras, we edited faster, it’s more dialogue, the pace is much quicker, we weren’t afraid of huge wide shots of London … All of that was the basic DNA of the TV show. All of the movie allowed me to have eight times as much fun. It just gave me so much more stoked and energy, so I was never afraid of that.

After ten seasons we thought, “Okay, we’ve run out of ideas here.” then it closed down, and then we realized that the world was madder than ever, to be honest. We had the Americans and the Brits spying on the Germans. We had the Brits selling their secrets to the Americans. We had people grinding up hard drives in the garden. It was just like the real world was bonkers, so we thought, “Okay, time to get back in, because I think we need to rethink.”

That was good. We came back, and we did it. The great thing is we had the huge pallet, but we were allowed to keep it true to the series. We were allowed to have a dark, grey story. Our villains in the movie aren’t downright villains. They’re then motivated by actually any truths than anybody else. It’s just kind of pure love, really. That’s all we can do with Spooks. That’s the great thing about the Spooks characters.

Andrew: You’ve got some really great locations in the movies, such as the scene on the National Theater and on Waterloo Bridge. Did that pose any serious challenges for you guys wanting to film something like that in central London?

Bharat: No more than usual. In the sense that I mean, one of the great advantages of Spooks had been filming in London for the last ten years. Pretty much everyone loved Spooks, and they identified as the London based show. It’s very funny now. When I first went to go looking for locations, I’d have to explain to people when you were visiting locations to say, “No, I need a kind of dark room with high balconies where you could use a scope and see the Prime Minister talking behind the stand,” and you’d have to explain it all to them. You would end up in the wrong room and they show you the nice pretty room on the tenth floor.

Now, ten years along and you go, “I work for Spooks, and I’m looking for a room,” they show you the room, because they know the series. It’s kind of a shocker to understand what you’re after in a way. The National Theatre were incredibly welcoming. It’s very complicated, too. It’s a building that has conservation rules written all over it. We had to take a hundred people up on that roof and film it over three or four days. It was a complex piece. There’s no doubt about it, because you’ve got all that stuff on the bridge, all the stuff up there, you’ve got to travel actors and coordinate stuff and traffic and all the rest of it, but the hardest thing, to be honest, is the weather.

It was raining one day, bright sunshine the next day, and dark the following day. That was a complex one for us. Heathrow Airport was amazing as well. To get access to Heathrow is very difficult these days. They let us film there for three or four days. People were very willing and very excited to have Spooks back. It was good. I mean, all these things of the logistical nightmare, but the actual people, they were very welcoming.

Andrew: We obviously saw some returning characters as well as Harry. Was it important to you that you had a number of returning characters, and was there anyone else you wanted to bring back but just couldn’t quite make it?

Bharat: I’d have them all back. There should have been a shower scene where they all woke up and they were like, “Uh … “.  I asked to bring Matthew Macfadyen back. Matthew played Tom Quinn in the last episode. I went back and filmed the very last episode in the final season, and I was very keen to bring Matthew back for that. He very kindly came and did a little cameo in that last episode. He would be lovely to bring back for the film. He’s one of the rare characters. Who knows with sequels and follow ups and all the rest of it. He might be someone we can resurrect. He’s one of the rare ones that’s around, to be honest.

Andrew: I was going to say, most of them are dead or in Australia, aren’t they?

Bharat: That’s the problem. Ruth was probably the most difficult thing. It was such a hard choice, again, with the spoilers at the end of season ten, but we all know what happened to Ruth. Ruth was a much beloved character, so it was very, very difficult. We decided in the movie to continue the journey of Harry’s pain over Ruth a little bit. The audience felt like there was some continuity. We missed Nicola Walker. She was such a brilliant actress, and it was such a great character to work with.

There’s a little egg in the film. Two or three people left pop up, and it was great to bring Tim McInnerny back. He was always one of my favourite characters in the series, and it was just really nice to bring him back into the movie. He plays a really fun ego driven maniac is the only way to describe him. He’s a larger than life character. He’s brilliant in it.

Andrew: Other than Spooks, obviously, you’ve directed Torchwood, Life On Mars, and various other shows. How do you go about preparing for each one?

Bharat: Very carefully. What I do is I usually direct the first episode. They asked me to do the very first episode of Torchwood in season one, but I was busy with somethings else. I couldn’t do it, and I know Russell and I was desperate to work with him. They did Torchwood America, or course, so I thought, “Well, at least I can do something different that’s a slightly different reboot. It’s the same cast thrown in a different world.” It was important for me that I could kind of bring something new to it.

Life On Mars and Hustle and all of those are shows where I went to the first episode, and I see it as it’s nice to get away and create a world that no one else has seen that is like a template for everyone else to follow. The characters behave in a certain way. It’s like being in a proper film. It’s like you’re setting the costume, makeup, music, editing style, acting style, writing style … All of that is being set up in that original pilot. What I try to do is make sure each one has a distinctive flavor so if you switch it on and watch it you go, “Okay, that looks and feels and is completely different to the next thing, to the next thing that’s on television.” Almost it’s like branding something. It’s almost like creating something that’s very unique. That’s how I kind of come at things. I go, “How can I turn this into something?” Like the cop shows … I was like, “How can I do that so it feels completely different to every other buddy, buddy cop show you’ve seen?” That’s my job.

Andrew: Last question for you. What are you working on at the moment?

Bharat: Well, I just finished working on a pilot, which is going to a series for NBC which comes out in America in about a month’s time with Wesley Snipes in it. Which was fun … Which was called The Player. You can see the trailer is on YouTube, which is a high action octane thriller set in the gambling world of Las Vegas. We were filming in Las Vegas earlier this year for three months … At Las Vegas and Los Angeles, so that was fun. Loved the car chases and explosions and stuff, but I’m off to New Zealand at the end of this year to direct a small movie, which is kind of the end of the scale. It’s a movie that doesn’t have an explosion or car chase in sight. Basically, the characters live in a corner shop, and it’s about their life and love. It’s a very different almost very personal project in a way. That will keep me in New Zealand for a little while.

Then there’s always stuff. It’ll be great to come back and get onto a sequel to the next one. We were talking about lots of different ideas for them, so we’ll see what comes of that.

Andrew: Well, we look forward to seeing more stuff of yours in the future, and thank you very much for taking the time to speak to me today.

Bharat: Alright, thank you.

SPOOKS: THE GREATER GOOD is available now to download and is also available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of Entertainment One.

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.


  1. The movie was bland and downright unbelievable… I can’t believe they compared this to the Bourne Identity.

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