After bouncing back in a big way with Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai and then scoring an even bigger hit with The Dirty Picture, director Milan Luthria is now looking at making it big with Once Upon Ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara. As the film releases this week, we catch up with the filmmaker for a detailed chat.
Were you much more relaxed than ever before while making OUATIMD?
I think being relaxed and starting a movie somehow don’t go hand in hand (laughs). How much so ever you may try, there are always bunch of nerves when you start shooting and then just before its release. This time around, there are even more massive expectations. Since I have got a new starcast together for a sequel, there was a job in hand to break the ice from the audience perspective. First few days were a little tense for me when I was trying to accomplish that.
Was the film’s larger than life appeal a deterrent as well?
No, it was not difficult. See, OUATIM was made at the time of recession. We started the film in 2008 when not many films were getting green lighted and hence we had to be careful with how we spent money. When we started working on OUATIMD last year, times had changed, the whole marketplace had changed. Today, even if a film is an average affair, it will do 80-90 crore. We were clear that we were making a larger than life film and embarked on the journey with these expectations.
How did the presence of Akshay Kumar help?
Even today, Akshay is a very vital factor in making us all relaxed. He is the senior most in the unit and most successful in the crew. He is easy about his approach and the first thing that I learnt about him was that he is a very happy person. He doesn’t believe in being tense and doesn’t take any stress. He is disciplined and his life is quite simple. He likes to keep the crew happy. Even if I am stressed, he comes to me and asks me what is bothering me so that he can sort that out.
You have worked with Ajay Devgn extensively. Now Akshay was stepping in as a senior member of your cast. How was that transition?
We had one long discussion around how I wanted him to play his character. He said that he was a big fan of OUATIM and The Dirty Picture. He was humble enough to say that he would just follow my orders. It was good to hear him say that I was a major reason for why he wanted to be a part of the sequel. Later, he interpreted my vision and did his thing. See, he is a very clever and sharp man. Inke jaise experienced actors ko cheez baar baar bolne ki zaroorat nahi hoti. He has an experience of making over 100 films; he is quick to grasp what you are looking for.
On the other hand Imran Khan is a relative newbie. How was it dealing with him?
Imran has done certain kind of films and for him; it was a crossover to work with someone like me. Similarly for me too! It was a crossover to work with an actor of his kind. He adds certain dimension that perhaps not many may have been able to do in this role. We enjoyed working together. He is a lovely guy and very eager to excel. He wanted to really do well in this part.
After working with a hardcore actress in the form of Vidya Balan, you are working with relatively new entrant Sonakshi Sinha in a pivotal role. Wasn’t that a risk that you took?
She is a delight to work with. Whatever I have seen of her work, she is good. I had met her at Salman‘s (Khan) place once or twice and had liked interacting with her. She was terrific with Dabangg but then I felt that she was quickly getting typecast. I feel that is not fair for someone who is so young and new. I had a different character to offer her, you know the kind with a 80s feel and a Muslim connect. It worked. Now that Lootera has happened, people have woken up to her talent. I was sure of it, from the beginning!
How sure are you of the 100 crores milestone been crossed with the film?
(Pauses) I don’t think it is about a number. I feel that the way audiences are reacting so well to good products, we should do well. For us, it is mainly about seeing the House Full board out there. Honestly, we haven’t remotely thought about how much money OUATIMD can make. We want to be known as successful and profitable filmmakers. We want to make sure that everybody makes a little bit of money at least.