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'London Dreams is more like Mamma Mia'

Last updated on: October 20, 2009 14:27 IST

'London Dreams is more like Mamma Mia'

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Patcy N in Mumbai

Vipul Shah decided to give his favourite actor Akshay Kumar a break, and cast Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan instead in his new film, London Dreams.

The director of such films like Aankhen, Waqt: The Race Against Time and Namaste London hopes to churn out another hit in this film about a rock band.

He tells Patcy N what to expect on October 30, when London Dreams releases:

What is London Dreams about?

London Dreams is about the journey of two friends from childhood to adulthood. Originally from Punjab, they dream of going to London, forming a band and conquering the world of music. Trouble starts when one becomes more popular than the other, and both fall in love with the same girl.

Is London Dreams like a musical drama?

We don't make musicals like Chicago or Moulin Rouge. Our musicals are different. My film would be closer to Mamma Mia. So yes, it is a musical film with Indian standards. There are eight songs in the movie.

Why London?

The trend of going to London is peculiar to Punjab. I based the story on this existing phenomenon.


Image: A scene from London Dreams

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'Salman was part of the project from day one'

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Is London Dreams based on any play or book, as your films are mostly inspired by Gujarati plays?

No, this is not inspired by any play or book. When I do a film, it's important that I do something I have not done in the past. Aankhen was a thriller while Waqt was a family drama. Namastey London was a romantic comedy while Singh Is Kinng was a full-on comedy (Vipul Shah was credited as a producer for this one).

This time, I wanted to try something different so I thought of a musical with the element of friendship. It was challenging and exciting.

Your last four films were with Akshay. Why did you turn to Salman and Ajay?

Before I finished writing the final script of London Dreams, I had a chat with Akshay. I told him about London Dreams and Singh Is Kinng, both of which had a Punjabi essence. Akshay (opted for Singh Is Kinng and) decided not to do London Dreams, saying that people would get bored of seeing him playing another Punjabi character.

Salman was part of the project from day one. The further I got with writing the story, I thought of Ajay and was very happy when he agreed to do the film. Only he could have done the role.

How did Salman become involved?

This film was supposed to start earlier with Rajkumar Santoshi and Salman Khan. But it got stalled for some reason. Salman had the script, so he called me one day and asked me to take a look at it. I did, and told him that I will write it from scratch. He agreed.


Image: A scene from London Dreams

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'There is no sense of competition between Salman and Ajay'

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Why Salman and Ajay together? Is it because the pairing worked in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam?

Not really. But I was surprised that nobody thought of casting them together after Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. I selected them because of the way their characters merge, which is powerful. I knew their personas will enhance their characters.

What I wanted was a very strong character, who was very determined, focused and ambitious. I wanted somebody with an intense face and eyes. Ajay fitted the role. We all know what a terrific actor he is.

Salman plays the other guy, a guy who believes that life is one big party full of fun and romance. He does not even know that he has talent until very late in life.

Don't you think Ajay and Salman look too old to play rock stars?

I am surprised that people think rock stars need to be young. Just look at the biggest rock acts and artists the world over --be it the Rolling Stones, Bono and Madonna -- they're all over 50. The characters in my movie are in their 30s when the story starts.

How was it directing Salman and Ajay? Any ego clashes on the sets?

I discovered that they are good friends, who respect each other. There is no sense of competition between them. I did not come across any ego clashes. We formed such a fantastic team that every night we would have dinner together. All the fun that we had was reflected in the scenes we shot.


Image: A scene from London Dreams

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'I think Asin is largely misunderstood'

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How was the overall experience of shooting London Dreams?

There were thousands of people on the sets to watch the shoot, so it was difficult to manage the fans. We shot in four places -- London, Paris, Punjab and Mumbai. Except for Mumbai, the temperature everywhere was zero degrees. It became very difficult for the actors to look good and fresh all the time. So in the evenings, we would unwind for two hours by eating together, chatting, going to the movies or watching DVDs. There was tremendous team spirit and bonding. We shot for about five months.

Why did you decide on Asin? A lot of producers say she throws tantrums. How far is this true?

I have seen Asin's work in south Indian films. She is a very good dancer with a face perfect for playing a girl from an Iyer family.

I think Asin is largely misunderstood. She is very particular about things whether it is costume or makeup or her hair. I am planning another film with her, which I wouldn't be doing if she was such a difficult person now, would I?

Rumours have it that you gifted Salman a designer jacket worth Rs 3 lakh. Aren't you showing a bit of favouritism here?

It is not a gift. Salman picked up a Roberto Cavalli jacket for the shoot of London Dreams. He wore it all the time and since it looked good on him, he kept it. I told the other actors that they could keep their costumes too, if they liked them. Anyway, I can't use them again and I didn't want to see them go to waste.


Image: A scene from London Dreams

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'I have never copied anybody's work so far'

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Why is it written everywhere that Asin is upset with Salman but is good friends with Ajay? Is this some kind of publicity stunt?

There is no truth in this. First, they say Salman and Asin are friends, then they say they're having an affair, then Salman gifted her a house, then Salman gifted her a dog, then there were paintings of Salman in her bedroom and so on and so forth. I am sure someday there will be story saying that Asin and Ajay are having an affair. I don't think any importance should be given to such gossip. Asin gets along with everyone. Why can't two people be friends?

Your next movie is Action Replay. What is that about? Is it inspired from Brad Pitt's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?

Action Replay stars Akshay Kumar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Neha Dhupia, Kirron Kher and Om Puri. It is a fantasy romantic comedy about time travel, based on a play of the same name that I wrote 14 years ago. 

Warner Brothers has already issued a notice saying that they are the copyright holders of Benjamin Button and that nobody should copy it. So I would be a fool to copy a film after this notice. I have never copied anybody's work so far, so why now? Most importantly, the story is not similar at all. An article mentioned that Akshay has done reverse ageing like the one in Benjamin Button. What the article neglected to mention is that we followed a similar pattern or process of makeup for Action Replay. People failed to realise that the article was about the makeup and not Akshay doing reverse aging.

You're also doing Zaara Jeeke Deekha. What is that about?

The title has changed to Kuch Love Jaisa and will star Rahul Bose and Shefali Shah. It is written and directed by Barnali Shukla. It is an interesting story of a housewife and a criminal who meet in a restaurant, and how their life changes after that meeting.


Image: A scene from London Dreams

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