Milind Luthria has finally locked the script of the Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai sequel and promises to announce his cast, that’s been the subject of much media speculation, by mid-October. “We should wrap up The Dirty Picture by the month-end and then I will be able to focus on this much-awaited sequel. The project is an expensive one, and since some actors are yet to be signed, I wouldn’t like to be caught making false claims,” he asserts when quizzed about reports of Kareena Kapoor being cast as Mandakini and Imran Khan as her gangster paramour in Dubai.
The Dirty Picture also has its roots in real life and has reportedly been inspired by the success story and suicide of the South industry’s item girl Silk Smitha. Given the kind of curiosity it has generated, will it spin off a franchise too? “I haven’t thought of a sequel yet, but if people find it uplifting, then I’d be the first to jump at the opportunity,” says the director. “There are so many girls like Silk, so The Dirty Picture story can carry on.”
Milan admits that the flood of reactions to the film’s first teaser has taken him by surprise. They range from “bold” and “sexy” to “shocking” and “colourful” and have made their not-so big budget film as keenly anticipated as more lavish productions like RA.One and Don 2. “We pondered over the first poster for weeks. We had other ideas but they were more generic and put the film in the bracket of a There’s Something About Mary (1998). Finally, we came up with this one that was personal and quintessential to a film that was being perceived as a ‘sleazy art movie’. With this poster we transformed it into a full-blooded, mainstream thoroughbred,” he laughs.The filmmaker admits that it was a conscious decision to place Emraan Hashmi away from the other two actors, Naseeruddin Shah and Tusshar Kapoor, who are in close proximity to Vidya Balan in the poster: "He’s the card we’re holding closest to our chest. We’ll play it up at a later stage."
The choice of the font too was deliberate to reflect the razzmatazz of showbiz, as was the crimson of Vidya’s sari. “My heroine is happy being a woman and the actor playing her is also unabashed and unapologetic about playing her,” he points out.
Today, apart from Vidya Balan’s sexy new avatar, the film’s catchy title too has become its USP, even though both initially came in for plenty of criticism. “Like our choice of picking Vidya as the protagonist, the title that came with Rajat Arora’s script too was the subject of hot debate,” Milan reminisces. “Many insisted we should change it as it was too harsh. Others, on the grounds that its an English title. But both Ektaa (producer Ektaa Kapoor) and I stood by it and today the unanimous verdict is that it’s perfect.”