After the stupendous success of Munnabhai M.B.B.S. and its sequel Lage Raho Munna Bhai, director Rajkumar Hirani is planning a third film in the series that will be shot in the United States.
"Yes it's true. As soon as we saw the final print of Lage Raho Munna Bhai, my writer Abhijit Joshi and I hit on the idea of the next Munnabhai film," Hirani told IANS.
This time Hirani will take his protagonist to the US.
"Sanju (Dutt) has been after me to do a Munnabhai film where Munna and Circuit go to America. I had once seen Sanju and Arshad in a golf cart in the US. They looked damn funny.
"These two guys, both bhais, were being transported from one location to another in a golf cart. That's when I joked to Sanju, what if we send Munnabhai to America? It started as a joke. But now it's gotten serious."
But before starting part three, Hirani plans to make a film on educational system in colleges.
"There's another script set in a college. It's a light-hearted look at the educational system, on how education kills creativity. It's a very different world. That's what I'll make before the next Munnabhai."
Now that the shelf life of "Munnabhai" has gone so far, Hirani is no more apprehensive.
"Even the sequel is a film I'm proud of. Lage Raho Munna Bhai I love that title. We thought of other options, did a survey."
Hirani says that they asked every passer-by on Linking Road which title they'd like -- "Mahatma Versus Munnabhai" or "Lage Raho..." -- and 87 percent of the people opted for the latter. After scripting, filming and editing you lose objectivity.
"But now when I see Lage Raho... I'm very proud of it. I think it has gone beyond Munnabhai M.B.B.S.
"This time we had the resources. All the actors were totally with the project. During the first Munnabhai. Sanju was busy with other projects. This time the actors and the production values were all in place, all gave all of themselves to the project."
Hirani feels the content was far richer this time.
"We've touched on larger issues. It touches on the theme of Gandhism. The film says Gandhi's ideals can still work and it's a better way of life. Last time Munna said that the doctors need to heal themselves. This time he says Gandhism is still relevant. But there's no preaching."
There were similarities between Munnabhai M.B.B.S. and the Robin Williams starrer Patch Adams, but Hirani denies it.
"Not knowingly. But I had seen Patch Adams. In Lage Raho Munna Bhai we had no reference points to any film from any part of the world. This film was difficult to write.
"Every time I wrote a joke or a gag, I'd immediately compare it with the last film. But everyone feels Lage Raho... is better than the first film."
It's raining comedies in Bollywood.
"I know, herd mentality," remarks Hirani. "When two years ago I made Munnabhai M.B.B.S. everyone warned me that comedies don't work. Now, they say only comedies work.
"But why call 'Munnabhai' a comedy? I never thought of it that way. The characters are light. But the issues tackled in both films are very serious.
"When we were digging out stand-out lines for the promos of Munnabhai M.B.B.S., we could only come up with two dialogues. Even in Lage Raho... the humour is in the situational. Lage Raho... isn't a slapstick or gag-driven comedy. It's different from other comedies."
Hirani sighs, "Thank god sequels work again, though that never bothered me. A good film works regardless from where it comes.
"It's strange, before the success of Phir Hera Pheri, Krrish and Lage Raho... people believed sequels don't work. Now, I'm sure there will be lots more sequels."