Milan Luthria on 7 years of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai: Good work stands the test of time | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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Milan Luthria on 7 years of Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai: Good work stands the test of time

Milan Luthria, director of the superhit film Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, which marks 7 years of its release today, recalls how the film came together.

bollywood Updated: Jul 30, 2017 07:42 IST
Rishabh Suri
Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010) emerged as a box-office success, paving the way for more films based on the life of gangsters.
Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010) emerged as a box-office success, paving the way for more films based on the life of gangsters.

Director Milan Luthria, director of the superhit gangster film Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, reveals that the film came to him at a time when he was at his lowest. “The year was 2008, with the Great Recession affecting everyone. I was broke, without any job. The makers of the film were looking for someone with a fresh point of view, that’s where I came in.”

Ajay Devgn and Kangana Ranaut in a still from the film.

The story of the film was about Sultan Mirza (played by Ajay Devgn) who rises to become the smuggling kingpin of Mumbai in the 1970s, and is in turn challenged by his protege Shoaib (played by Emraan Hashmi). Milan attributes the unprecedented success of the film to its stellar cast. “For the role of Sultan, who was a robinhood-kind of gangster of that era, we just had to take Ajay. Emraan was perfect for the role of the rebellious, trigger-happy Shoaib, while Kangana Ranaut had that Saira Banu porcelain charm to her, who was a famous actor at that time. Prachi Desai, who played the role of Emraan’s girlfriend Mumtaz, was selected because frankly, we didn’t have any actor who agreed to play that part. But after seeing her on a TV show, I was mighty impressed and brought her on-board”, he says.

He recalls how tough a shoot it was. “We shot in some of the most dangerous areas of Mumbai, where once our security too was beaten up by the local goons. Emraan’s house in the film? It actually belongs to an ex-gangster. Also, when we were shooting the famous dockyard scene where Shoaib meets Sultan for the first time, some Bangladeshi immigrants surrounded us and their leader tried to extort money from us. Upon refusing, they threatened to set Ajay’s vanity van on fire!”

On his obsession with basing his films, such as The Dirty Picture (2010), OUATIM and now his upcoming release Baadshaho in the 1970s and 80s, Milan says, “The times we live in today are simply not as dramatic and manly. Also, I don’t choose that era- it chooses me. No matter how hard I try running away from it, it finds me”, he laughs, adding, “I have done films like Kachche Dhaage (1999) too, which weren’t era-specific films. But OUATIM was so larger-than-life with punchy dialogues, that it still appeals a lot to the audience. Good work is that which stands the test of time.”

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