The prolific Abbas-Mustan admit their new film Race has the biggest star cast they've ever worked with.
"It has Saif and Akshaye Khanna as brothers who are trying to outdo each other."
Saif is thrilled to have finally signed a film that gives him a chance to dance with a new co-star.
"I'm absolutely enjoying working with Akshaye Khanna. A new co-star is always fun. Akshaye, Abbas-Mustan and I seem to come from different worlds. It is an interesting mix of different sensibilities. I'm sure the results will be rewarding."
Abbas admits he signed them because they've never worked together.
"Saif has never been seen in a role like the one he'll play in Race. And Akshaye Khanna too has been cast like never before. But what interests us as filmmakers is how the combination will excite the audience."
There is a growing belief in the film industry that every star on his or her own spells little magic at the box office. It is the combination that works. Priyadarshan's comedy Bhagam Bhaag held the interest of the audience, mainly because of the never seen before combination of Govinda and Akshay Kumar.
"Race also has other stars who have never worked with each other before. Bipasha and Katrina have never worked together or with Saif and Akshaye. Or for that matter Anil Kapoor with Sameera Reddy," said Abbas.
Apparently, Mallika Sherawat was to be cast opposite Anil. But the pair has already been seen and rejected in Ram Gopal Varma's Darna Zaroori Hai. So it is Sameera Reddy now.
Abbas-Mustan seem to have gotten the formula right in Race.
"We want to continue doing work that will excite audiences. Of course, people want us to make suspense thrillers. We'll continue to do the needful. But we need to spice up proceedings within our comfort zone. One way of doing so is to bring stars together like never before," they said.
"While Race features an array of stars in combinations and looks never seen before, the new Bobby Deol-Akshaye Khanna starrer we've just shot presents our antagonists from Humraaz in totally different roles. Then we have Mr Fraud where Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgan cross swords while Bipasha Basu joins in," they added.
Many other filmmakers are following Abbas-Mustan's formula. Nikhil Advani's Salaam-e-Ishq had unusual combinations like Salman Khan-Priyanka Chopra and John Abraham-Vidya Balan.
In Happy Birthday, producer Gaurang Doshi has gone to great lengths to get the hitherto untried combination of John Abraham and Aishwarya Rai. Doshi agrees the two stars individually spell much less magic than in a combination.
In Mani Ratnam's Lajjo, Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor come together for the first time.
"It's not just for the audience. The thrill of working with big stars in new combination also extends to the director," says Abbas.