Ankush Bhatt, the director of upcoming masala action film Mumbai Mirror promises that his film has Dabangg-like grandeur, as well as a logical, meaningful story. Indulging in an exclusive tete-a-tete with Gomolo, Ankush Bhatt talks about his film, Sachiin Joshi and more. Ankush's debut movie Bhindi Bazaar receieved critical acclaim.
Tell us something about Mumbai Mirror
MM is basically a cop story. The rise and fall of a cop. Basically the film is about the nexus between the cops and dance bars. It is a fun filled entertaining movie. I won’t reveal much about the plot; you will have to see the film for that.
What is the message of this film?
The film’s basic message is that life doesn't give you second chance. Very rarely do people get a second chance. The cop in my film spirals downwards, starts drinking, doing drugs and women. He realises how all this has created huge problems in his life and he decides to bounce back. In a nutshell, it is the fall and rise of an underdog.
How different is this cop film from the other cop films like Dabangg, etc?
My film is different. My cop is human, not a superhero. He is not fighting against the system, instead, the battle is within himself. If you see films like Dabangg and Rowdy Rathore, they don’t have a meaningful story and they are not logical. In this film, the audience will find Dabangg-like masala plus grandeur. Everyone will be satisfied. I am happy my film is being compared to big films. As a maker, it feels good that I have come to that standard.
Why such an unusual title? Did you get the rights from the tabloid which has the same name?
We are showing the not-so-good reflection of Mumbai – the underbelly, the uglier side. It is not about getting the rights, it’s about the association. But yes, we did approach the tabloid.
Is it true that Mallika Sherawat was supposed to be the leading lady of this film?
Yes, Mallika was supposed to be the lead in the film. A week before we were supposed to shoot, she backed out. She had different views. And she wouldn't have been able to give her 100%. So we mutually parted ways.
How did you manage to rope in Aditya Pancholi and Mahesh Manjrekar?
Aditya and Mahesh immediately agreed when they heard the script, they understood the role and had complete faith in me.
Cops and bar dancers - doesn't this theme sound cliched?
When was the last time you have seen a dance bar in films? Chandni Bar... But this story is about what actually happens inside the bar. There are a lot of things like drug trafficking, prostitution, etc that goes on inside these places. A lot of research has gone into this. There is a big nexus involved between cops, bars and politicians. Research is camouflaged in the way of entertainment.
You seem to like Prashant Narayanan a lot... after your directorial debut Bhindi Baazaar Inc., you've cast him again...
Prashant is a very whimsical but brilliant actor. He is doing a positive role in this film for the first time. I am the only filmmaker who has cast him twice. He took up this role as a challenge.
Doesn't Sachiin Joshi's look appear similar to that of Aamir Khan's look in Talaash?
Cops technically look like that. Sachiin looked like a baby without the moustache. This look was decided last January; we had to make him look more believable. There is no similarity between the Talaash look and MM look.
Whose idea was this catchy phrase... "18th Jan la gheun taak!"?
The marketing team, which has done a brilliant job. The phrase is used a lot in Mumbai and it clicked with the film. We don’t have a superstar like Salman, so we have to spend a lot on marketing. I am all for marketing as long as it doesn’t hamper the feel of my films.
How did you zero in on Gihana Khan as Rani? Also, could you tell us something about her character in the film.
Since Mallika backed out at the last moment, we didn’t have much time. But at that time if we would have postponed the shoot we would have lost out on Prakash, so we zeroed in on her. Her character is that of a popular bar girl. She always chooses money over the hero, she lands him in trouble. Initially she has a negative role but later, she becomes the hero’s backbone.
Your debut film had a rather racy poster, but you kept the poster of MM quite simple... Could you shed some light on that?
The MM poster was the marketing team’s call. My first film didn’t have a big star cast and I had to attract eyeballs.
Your film has two item songs. Don't you think it would hinder the pace of the cop drama?
Both the item songs have a story revolving around them. One is the situation where the bar is opening and the cop comes and shuts down the bar; and second is when the cop reopens the bar.
How did Prakash Raj replace Nana Patekar?
Every actor has his own individual style. Nana would have brought in his own intensity. Prakash has a menacing, comical side. Both are brilliant actors. When I went to meet Prakash Raj, there were 6 other Bollywood directors waiting; but out of all of them I am the only one he agreed to work with. So I guess I’m lucky.
How were the Joshi's as producers?
Raina Joshi (Urvashi Sharma) is superb. We have known each other since a long time. She made it very clear that she didn’t want to act. She was a huge fan of Bhindi Bazaar Inc. We narrated the script to Sachiin and he loved it. He asked me whether he could do it. Initially, I had my apprehensions, but after a month he surprised me by losing weight. He went all out to get the look right. We finished the shoot in 45 days flat. What’s more, the atmosphere on the sets was very warm and friendly.
Here's a quick fire round for you...
3 favourite Bollywood films: Lage Raho Munnabhai, Ram Aur Shyam and Chachi 420
3 Favourite Hollywood films: Speed, Face Off and Inception
Favourite Bollywood filmmaker: Raj Kumar Hirani and Ram Gopal Varma
Favourite upcoming filmmaker: Luv Ranjan
3 favourite films of 2012: Vicky Donor, English Vinglish and Talaash
Proudest Moment for you: 2 films in a span of 1-and-a-half years without any backing...
Most awkward moment: I had a big fight with Bhindi Bazaar Inc’s producer and he killed his own product by re-editing the film. I could have handled the situation in a much better way.
One thing you are afraid of: My honesty
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