'Humraaz will not go bust'
Directors Abbas-Mustan spill the beans on their latest thriller
Grain merchants-turned-directors Abbas-Mustan have Indianised quite a few Hollywood flicks like Baazigar (A Kiss Before Dying), Ajnabee (Consenting Adults) and old Bollywood hits Khiladi (Khel Khel Mein) and churned out hits.
Even Chori Chori Chupke Chupke was a remake of Lekh Tandon's Doosri Dulhan. Abbas-Mustan laced it with modern sensibility which they seem to have borrowed from the Julia Roberts starrer Pretty Woman.
The duo are confident about their latest film Humraaz, starring Akshaye Khanna, Bobby Deol and Amisha Patel. "The film industry is going through an extremely low phase but Humraaz will not go bust," they claim.
They do not seem to be bothered that Humraaz is yet another film inspired from a Hollywood flick (the Michael Douglas-Gwyneth Paltrow starrer A Perfect Murder). "How many films have you seen lately in any language which had anything new --- and we mean really new --- to offer? We all are inspired by each other. So it all boils down to what one does to a storyline," says Mustan.
"Our films are never straight rip-offs," Mustan continues. "The characterisations may be similar but not the story. We cannot translate Hollywood completely in India. People are not so liberal in their thoughts. They are very emotional and sentimental. Besides, they do not accept films without songs. So, we have to keep all these factors in mind. We definitely eye the box-office."
The film was conceived a year ago when writers Siraj Ahmed and Shyam Goel 'swept us off our feet by this thrilling tale'.
Abbas maintains the secret of Humraaz. "We cannot tell you what is it about," he chuckles. "It is a story of complex relationships, misplaced ambition and unmitigated greed. It reveals the darker side of people. The film has its thrills and it fast-paced. It is an edge-of-the-seat excitement at its best. In short, the film conveys that love and money are equally important in life."
Without further persuasion, he goes on, "Karan (Akshay Khanna) leads an upcoming dance troupe. He and Priya (Amisha Patel) --- the lead performers --- are in love with each other. The troupe gets a contract to perform on a cruise ship owned by a millionaire Raj Singhania (Bobby Deol). The cruise ship sails for Malaysia. Raj meets Priya on the cruise and falls in love with her. She, too, is smitten. Raj proposes marriage and Priya agrees."
The duo refuse to divulge anymore.
This is Bobby Deol's third film with the duo (Soldier, Ajnabee) "Bobby plays a millionaire in the film. We chose him because he looks rich. Besides, he is very hard working," says Abbas. "As for Akshaye Khanna, there are no two opinions about his acting skills. We always wanted to work with him, as we believe that his talent has not been tapped."
Originally, Amisha Patel's role had been offered to Priyanka Chopra (before she was crowned Miss World). "We had a mutual agreement with Priyanka that if she was crowned, she would first finish all her social work and promotional campaigns and then immediately begin working for Humraaz," says Abbas. "We wanted to launch her. But she signed on some other films instead. So we offered it to Amisha and she was very excited. In retrospect, it is good that we did not have Priyanka Chopra. If you see the film, you will realise that Amisha has a very innocent look which is vital to her character. Priyanka would not have looked so innocent. Watch out for Amisha! She is very glamorous in the first half and quite 'Indian' in the second."
Music composer Anu Maliik did not compose the music for this film, though he has composed music for most Abbas-Mustan films. "We have not split with Anu Maliik," the duo confirms. "We wanted to give a chance to Himesh Reshamiya and the results are there for all to see. Youngsters must be encouraged. Himesh has loads of talent. He is a readymade shop of tunes. In our first sitting, he dished out six tunes from which we selected four on the spot!"
Humraaz, which took a year to be made, was delayed by three months as the filmmakers could not get permission to shoot on the cruise liner. The duo stress that shooting on the cruise liner was a very arduous task. "This cruise liner sailed from Singapore to Malaysia," they explain. "We stayed aboard for fourteen days. During that time, the liner took three trips from Singapore to Malaysia. But we were given permission to shoot only in particular areas and on particular timings (between 02:00 am to 05:00 am). We were not to inconvenience the passengers in any way."
The duo state that the two confrontation scenes between Bobby Deol and Akshaye Khanna are the highlights of the film.
This film is very important for all the three protagonists. Bobby's previous film 23 March 1931 -- Shaheed was a disaster, most of Amisha's films (Yeh Zindagi Ka Safar, Kranti, Aap Mujhe Achche Lagne Lage) flopped and there is added pressure on Akshaye Khanna to deliver another hit after his previous hit.
But the directors do not mind. "We cast Bobby in Soldier after Kareeb and Aur Pyaar Ho Gaya had crashed," they say. "We know what we are doing. An artiste needs to be only 50 per cent talented. The rest is up to the director. As for Amisha, this will be her third hit, take this from us! Also, we cast Akshaye much before Dil Chahta Hai happened."
After Humraaz, the duo look forward to their next ventures --- an untitled Baba Films project starring Akshay Kumar and Preity Zinta and Rajiv Tolani's next.