Before signing Sujoy Ghosh directed Aladin, Sanjay Dutt had only one condition. He wanted the moustache to stay intact for the character of 'Ringmaster' that he plays in the film. Remembers Sujoy, "It was year 2006 when I showed Dutt saab all my homework on 'Ringmaster' and a storyboard of a Ringmaster sequence. He looked at everything and especially his getup and gave me his consent in four words. I remember these four words verbatim. He said - 'Keep the moustache Bro'. He was quite fascinated by the entire storyboarding, especially the way his character looked."
In fact Sujoy was in for a pleasant surprise when he realised that it was Amitabh Bachchan himself who got in touch with Sanjay Dutt and sounded him about the part of 'Ringmaster' that was tailor made for him. "I still remember the three hour narration that I had with Sir (Bachchan). After the narration the first thing Sir said was - 'It's going to be a nightmare to make this film but let's make it. But who will play Ringmaster? Who 'CAN' play Ringmaster?' Thankfully I was quite clear about the man who could do that. I told Sir that the only person who could play 'Ringmaster' was either Sir himself or Sanjay Dutt", narrates Sujoy in an animated tone.
Apparently, Amitabh Bachchan too was quite kicked about Sujoy's choice and was in agreement with Sanjay Dutt playing the part. He instructed Sujoy to reach out to Sanjay Dutt and narrate the script to him.
"I prepared myself to talk to Duttsaab in the gym that evening. However, imagine my surprise when my mobile rung and it was Dutt saab himself on the call. He told me that Sir had already given him a call and was sounding quite excited about the film. He wanted all details about the movie there and then. In mock anger, he also pulled me in for not talking to him first about the movie. I had to then explain to him that I was going to do that and had no idea that Sir was going to call", smiles Sujoy as he remembers the conversation from the past.
Nevertheless, the conversation did happen and Sanjay Dutt was on board immediately. However, things weren't as smooth for Sujoy and his team even as his principal star cast was in place. It was year 2007 and things weren't moving forward at the kind of speed that the filmmaker would have expected.
"Preparations were on full force for Aladin and we were almost there. However, Dutt saab took a sabbatical and things were unclear. Honestly, there were choices laid out in front of me but I was always very clear about my choice", says Sujoy, "If at all Aladin had to turn into cinematic reality, it was to be made with Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Riteish Deshmukh. I happily waited for things to fall back in place and today, I have it all!" An EROS production, Aladin has music by Vishal & Shekhar and is all set for a 24th July release.