Was the film actually shot in Lokhandwala?
We were going to shoot the whole film at the Swati building in Lokhandwala where the actual incident happened in 1991. However we couldn't do that so we erected a set worth 50 lakhs in Filmcity which had 7 building and roads and trees and made it look exactly like how Swati building was in 1991. We shot certain parts in the Dahisar market where it was easier for us to shoot.
Have you stuck to the realistic treatment for the film or glamorized it for cinematic effect?
I haven't glamorized it but have worked on the look. The treatment of story-telling is realistic and there are no gizmos.
Are the character names used in the film same as that of the people involved in the original incident?
Not full names - only their first names. The cops names have been changed.
Is the then encounter head, Aftab Ahmed Khan, playing a role in the film?
He is playing Krishnamurthy who was originally Ramamurthy, Khan's boss at that time. He gave him the go ahead to go for the operation.
Pooja Bedi had an issue that you were using her character in the film played by Rakhi Sawant.
Not at all! Pooja is a very good friend of mine and we went to the same school. There were no issues at all. A reporter was interviewing Pooja when the shootout had taken place at Lokhandwala. Here we have Rakhi Sawant who is playing Rakhi Sawant. She is not playing Pooja Bedi.
Rakhi Sawant is acting in the film and Mika has sung a song for the film too. Didn't they have any issues?
They are all professionals. There's Amitabh, Abhishek and Viveik in my film too. They all had problems but nothing unwanted happened on the sets. They do not get into politics as they are actors. We do not tell them to sign a film to become friends.
Reportedly Sanjay Gupta was upset with Neha Dhupia and vowed never to work with her again. What was your equation with her in the film?
My equation with Neha is fantastic. I have no problems with her and we will definitely work together in the future. As far as the two are concerned, there was some communication gap between them.
Arbaaz Khan claims he plays a funny character in the film but the trailers give an impression that he is a no-nonsense cop?
He is a no nonsense cop who took up a job in the police department for the betterment of his life and his family's life. So we have given him a very cynical look towards the police department.
You began as a director with a rural based film (Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost), then moved into a slick and stylish film based in Bangkok (Ek Ajnabee) and now you are back into the alleys of Mumbai. Is it the subject that drives you or your creative restlessness, which makes you do diverse films?
As far as I am concerned, I will do any film at any place in any language if it excites me. I don't have a genre I want to follow. People thought my first film Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost was a very stupid idea about a television coming into a village but I was very passionate about the script. It didn't do well at all and sank at the box-office. Then I told people I wanted to make Man on Fire in Hindi because I wanted Amitabh Bachchan to be an action hero. He was my hero ever since childhood. As for this film I found it very interesting when I heard the one line story so I did it. Whenever I find anything interesting I will do it.
In director Anurag Kashyap's film Black Friday, we saw that he was not judgmental to either religion. Is that what we will see in Shootout at Lokhandwala where Maya Dolas and his gang have a reason to do whatever they are doing?
We have been much focused as far as the incident is concerned. We have done a lot of research from the police files and FIRs. Whatever real life incidents took place has been marked with the time and location. What is fictionalized is the part when the cops went into the building because we do not know what really happened. We have not been judgmental about anyone on why they did, what they did and who is the hero or villain. I guess that is left for the audience to decide.
Rendezvous with Ruslaan Mumtaz
Hearty chat with Ruslaan