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Last Updated 22.09.2021 | 2:34 PM IST
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11 Years of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai EXCLUSIVE: “I have not written immortal lines. Ajay Devgn has made those dialogues IMMORTAL” – Rajat Arora

Bollywood News

Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010) completes 11 years today. This period gangster film is remembered today for its setting, style, performances, music and script. But the clap worthy dialogues of this film were something else. Even today, ‘Dua mein yaad rakhna’ continues to be used, even in everyday conversations, and this shows the impact.

On the 11th anniversary of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, Bollywood Hungama decided to speak to Rajat Arora, the man who wrote these unforgettable one-liners

How important is July 30 for you, the day Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai released?
It is a career changing date! Before Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, I had got a good response for my work in films like Bluffmaster (2005) and Taxi No 9211 (2006). But with Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, it was different and everything changed. It was a film that brought back the trend of dialoguebaazi in Bollywood. Uske pehle yeh era ek tarike se chala gaya tha. Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai ko dekh ke sab ussi tarike se dialogues likhne ki koshish karne lage!

How was the project conceptualized? Did you think of the story?
The story came to us through Balaji Telefilms. Also, director Milan Luthria and I have always tried to do different stuff. Every film of us has been different from the one which we did earlier. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we didn’t. Yet, we tried to venture into a newer territory. After a gangster film like Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, we worked The Dirty Picture (2011), which was about the film industry. This was important for us for our growth.

You also wrote the story and screenplay. What was the brief given to you? How did you ensure that it doesn’t seem similar to the other Mumbai underworld films?
There was no brief as such. Once we decided to come on board, I thought that it should be an emotional film rather than a typical gangster flick. I told director Milan Luthria that I’ll prepare a draft that will make the film stand out. Before Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, landmark underworld films like Satya (1998) and Company (2002) had already got released and had had left a huge mark. So how do we make it different was the question. I was not in favour of making it a film which is about two people fighting each other. If you see, it’s actually a love story of two gangsters. Thankfully, my draft was liked by everyone.

Was the intention to ensure it doesn’t look similar to Company? Even that film had Ajay Devgn as the senior gangster whose protégé turns into his foe…
Absolutely and that was the biggest challenge for me.

Did you imagine the dialogues would go viral and would be remembered even 11 years later?
When we wrote the script, we approached a casting director to get actors for the film. For the audition, they wrote some dialogues and gave it to the actors to perform. When we saw the audition, we realized that the lines were written in ‘Bambaiyya’ lingo. So when I heard those lines, I got apprehensive that people would immediately draw parallels with Company and Satya. So I told Milan Luthria that I want to write 70s style dialogues which are over the top and bombastic. He told me to go for it as that was the only option available. So that was the idea, that the dialogues should not sound ‘Bambaiyya’. I don’t know when the language changed from Hindi to ‘Bambaiyya’ in our films. But the films of 70s and 80s had proper Hindi language dialogues. So we kept that essence and also decided to make it dialogue-heavy kyunki woh cheez ho nahi rahi thi uss time pe films mein. Luckily, people loved it and they love it even today. And it’s always heartening when you try something different and it gets accepted whole-heartedly.

Were Ajay Devgn and Emraan the first choice for the roles of Sultan Mirza and Shoaib respectively?
Absolutely. All the lead actors in the film were the first choices.

How was it working with Ajay Devgn? This was one of the best performances of his career…
It was a delight. I have not written immortal lines. He has made those dialogues immortal! The way he said it was just too good. He’s also quite easy to work with. Since he comes with a lot of experience, there’s lot to learn from him as well.

And how was it working with Emraan Hashmi?
Emraan is also a delight to work with. It was not an easy role to pull off. Once he came on board, he had no apprehensions at all about playing a negative part in the film. He got a lot of freshness to the role of Shoaib.

He’s also a role who is quite punctual…
Yes he is. His professionalism is out of this world. Also, the song picturized on him, ‘Pee Loon’ was like the highlight of the film. It continued the legacy of him and great songs.

Did you visit cinema halls to check out the audience reaction?
It has been a ritual for me and Milan Luthria to go to Gaiety-Galaxy to gauge audience reaction in the first day, first show. Wahan ke reaction se pata chal jaata hai ki film kaisi bani hai. The response was amazing. Before the release, we had a screening for the industry friends. There was a collective gasp in that screening when Shoaib shoots Sultan Mirza. Even in Gaiety, that collective gasp was seen.

I remember it was raining heavily in Mumbai the day the film released. Yet, I somehow managed to reach the theatre at Bandra from my residence Kandivali.

What was the feedback that you got from the industry?
It was excellent. Everyone praised it a lot. It was a film that appreciated universally and even got lot of awards.

After The Dirty Picture, Ekta Kapoor had gifted you a car. What did she gift after the success of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai?
(Smiles) She gifted me a watch. It was very beautiful. She understands this kind of cinema very well and she knows what she wants. So she gives very nice suggestions and inputs.

How will you celebrate the 11th anniversary of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai?
Aaj kal sab Zoom pe hi chal raha hai. So we’ll try and have a Zoom call with the entire team.

Which is your favourite dialogue from the film?
‘Dua mein yaad rakhna’, for sure. Usse badi line hi nahi hai film mein!

Also Read: Emraan Hashmi was hesitant to play Shoaib Khan in Milan Luthria’s Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai

More Pages: Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Box Office Collection , Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Movie Review


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