Writer-turned-director Rumi Jafry had finalised Akshay Kumar for his second film Life Partner, but says the star, who is known to charge exorbitant fees, backed out of the project on monetary issues.
"Akshay had a huge role in Life Partner. He had already said yes to the role and all dates were fixed. He was equally excited but due to price issues between him and the producers Abbas-Mustan he backed out of the project," Jafry told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
"I also discussed the matter with Abbas-bhai but he said 'to let him go' as they could not settle on a price. We then roped in Govinda and luckily the role has come out very well," the director added.
The film marks director duo Abbas-Mustan's entry as producers for filmmakers other than themselves.
Life Partner is a comedy and Jafry, who as a writer has been associated with comedies throughout his career, says audiences expect him to deliver funny films as a director too.
"Taking my previous record into account, audiences expect comedies from me and I deliver that. But I always try to and will keep a Hrishi-da (Mukherjee) touch in my movies with a message infused with laughter in all of them," said Jafry, who has scripted hit romantic comedies like Mujhse Shaadi Karogi (2004), Hero No.1 (1997) and Coolie No.1 (1995).
Set in Cape Town, South Africa, the film deals with the theme of "marriage" and stars Tusshar Kapoor, Prachi Desai, Fardeen Khan, Genelia D'Souza and Govinda in pivotal roles.
Tusshar plays a Gujarati guy who believes in arranged marriage and Prachi plays his wife, while Fardeen's character believes in love marriage and is paired with Genelia.
Govinda plays a divorce lawyer, who doesn't believe in the convention of marriage at all. The film also has a surprise element - the actress opposite Govinda.
"The film is about relationships and is an out-and-out comedy. Like all my films, even this one has a message - marriage is an essential part of life. As the world is progressing, relationships are crumbling and are not that deep any more. I'm sure it will leave the audiences thinking without compromising on their laughter," Jafry said.
What is interesting is that he zeroed in on the story after it was given a "sensible" nod by superstar Shah Rukh Khan.
"I came out with the idea for the movie while I was writing Chalte Chalte (2003) in Greece. I was discussing it with Shah Rukh (Khan) and Rani (Mukerji) and Shah Rukh asked me to make a film on it. He gave such a positive reaction to it and considering his sensibility and understanding of scripts, I realised I should go for it," he said.
Told that the storyline sounds similar to the 1982 film Shriman Shrimati, Jafry said: "I haven't even heard of any such movie. Now that you've said it, I'll have to watch it. There's no other inspiration behind Life Partner than the crumbling of relationships."
The movie was completed very quickly. "It took me five years to complete my first project, so I made sure to wrap up the second in only five months," quipped Jafry.
Life Partner was slated to release May 1, but has been pushed forward due to the ongoing revenue-sharing tussle between producers and multiplexes.