Smugglers, Cadillacs, cabarets, bell bottoms, blings and one-liners - these are some of the retro trends that director Milan Luthria is revisiting in his underworld saga Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, releasing Friday.
Co-produced by Balaji Telefilms and Popcorn Entertainment, it is being distributed by Balaji. The starcast of the action drama includes Ajay Devgn, Emraan Hashmi, Kangana Ranaut, Prachi Desai and Randeep Hooda.Set primarily in 1970s Mumbai, Once Upon.. traces the changing face of the Mumbai underworld seen through the eyes of a police officer.
The crime thriller follows the rise of Sultan (Ajay) and his eventual fall when his protégé Shoaib (Emraan) challenges his supremacy and usurps power to rule the murky underbelly of the city.
The movie covers the entire growth of the Mumbai underworld from crime and smuggling in its early stages through its connection with showbiz and international terrorism in recent times.
"It (the movie) blends together a mafia thriller with a retro aspect of the 1970s, whether it was the fashion of that time or the attitude of a rebellious Indian generation best portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan in Zanjeer where the common man was fed up of waiting for something to happen and took things into his own hands. It is a mix of these elements told in contemporary fashion".
"The purpose of the whole movie is to entertain with a dramatic story. It is a good blend of reality woven into fiction," he added.
Inspired from actual happenings, it is believed to be based on the lives of underworld gangsters Haji Mastan and Dawood Ibrahim.
Mastan's family sued Luthria and Balaji for allegedly portraying the former as a gangster. Luthria, however, denied the allegations.
"I don't think one can say that. There were several elements that have coloured our vision for the movie. One cannot pinpoint at any one particular person from that era in the story," he said.
Considering its retro appeal, the looks of the characters are also time-centric like flared pants, moustaches and long side-burns.
"Since we were shooting a film from that time, we had to get that kind of look in. The hairdo, bell bottoms, large collar shirts, floral shirts - we had to bring all that in," said Emraan.
Added Luthria: "The retro look is coming back with our film, be it the sunglasses, belts, t-shirts, trousers, everything. But at the same time, it is not something that will overpower the narrative."
Emraan was all praise for his female co-stars.
"They are wonderful in the film. Prachi is a delight. She brings a kind of freshness to the character with her presence and with her attire," he said.
"Kangana on the other hand has got a very glamorous role and is looking extremely beautiful. She has brought an extreme amount of appeal to the film," he added.
Not many know that Rs. 20 lakh was spent on creating just different hair styles for Kangana, who plays an actress in the movie. She dons 12 different looks in the film and hence 12 different wigs were created to get her looks right.
Emraan had to tone up his body for the role.
Once Upon... is the sole release at the box office Friday. Looking at Ajay and Emraan's expertise at serious roles, this one just might smuggle audiences out of their homes to the theatres.