With Once Upon A Time In Mumbai releasing and succeeding at the box office, Milan Luthria can afford to take a breather. He is off for a vacation with his wife and has pretty much cut himself from the rest of the world. However, before embarking on a well deserved break, he did talk about the factors that made OUATIM a success and how he got the best set of actors to do the job. In the second and concluding part of the conversation with special correspondent, Milan talks about the better actor between Ajay and Emraan, Mahesh Bhatt's remark around his filmmaking effort and the role that media plays in highlighting the success and failure of a film.
The film is a clean hit today and your biggest grosser till date as well. Can one say that now we have Milan Luthria re-defined with the success of the film?
I don't think so. I just feel that the film industry has woken up to this guy who has been around for a while. I have enjoyed similar reviews with Kachche Dhaage and Taxi No. 9211 as well. However, the fact is that today we are living in the media age when the popularity of a director's brand grows much faster than it used to be earlier. Then, it used to be quieter times but today, whether it is success or failure, news spreads fast. I am glad that it is a good time for me to be positioned differently. The maturity and experience that I have gained over the years gone by has come in handy as well.
When there was so much happening on the film for a couple of years, why didn't you go all out in creating a hype around it for all it was worth during it's making? You always kept a low key.
I don't think it is a question of being low key. I tend to stay extremely close to the product and shut myself from everything else. I don't do anything else during the making. I find it distracting to do build branding and PR at the same time. What you see on screen is not just 8-10 weeks of movie shoot; it is 2 years of intense relationship that a filmmaker carries with a story.
How about establishing yourself further in the industry? For someone who made a couple of quintessential multiplex films like Taxi No. 9211 and Hat Trick, was it like going back to the basics of making 'masala' flicks?
Yes. This makes me remember what Mahesh Bhatt said to me after he saw the film. He said that there are some parties where a host takes care of every little desire of yours. Whether it is the functioning of AC, choice of food, availability of sitting place etc; he does all to please you as a guest and leaves no stones unturned. He feels that in case of OUATIM, I was the host and audience were the guests. He also commented that desire of any filmmaker is to please the audience in a popular way; something which was the norm in the 70s where action, music, drama etc. came together. So yes, in that sense, it was like going back to the basics for me. After all this is an industry where you have to understand that your prime job is to entertain, not create social awareness.
That's true Milan. Now that you are not shying away from admitting what went in your mind during the making of OUATIM, why don't you - without getting diplomatic - also talk about the character which was more difficult to enact. Sultan (Ajay Devgn) or Shoaib (Emraan Hashmi)?
I think Shoaib. See, to play a character which is that of a leading man and yet so dark is a very difficult thing to do. As a performer, your conviction has to be much stronger than that of playing a positive character. Here I was showing someone who roughs up his girlfriend, wakes up on bed with another woman, abuses his own dad and doesn't have any morals whatsoever. This way, it was good on Emraan's part to believe in me and not worry about whether he was playing a positive or a negative character. Once he made up his mind, he never felt that he would be short-changed.
That was about the character. Who, as per you, acted better? Ajay or Emraan?
I won't pick any one of them in particular. In fact the guy who is a revelation is Randeep Hooda. See, Ajay and Emraan had author backed roles and their performance only made these roles look better. Randeep was the best because he was primarily a narrator and didn't quite have a similar author backed role. Yet, he shone. He is someone who is a good mix of talent and looks. He reminds me of Vinod Khanna, someone who had a no-nonsense attitude and great physique.
Coming to the business of the film, OUATIM has held on even after two weeks and has touched 50 crores just from India. What's the kind of eventual total you are looking at now?
I am not a numbers person at all. For me, if the house is full then my job is done. Beyond that, I don't know how the numbers are collected, what leads to net, gross etc; I am quite backward in such matters. I know for sure though that the film will continue to run well for many more weeks because the biggest challenge is Dabangg which comes only in September.