‘We are open to directing a Khiladi 2.’
‘And we would want to do it with Akshay who is still so fit, energetic and successful.’
They are the Men in White, credited with some of Hindi cinema’s best thrillers — Khiladi, Baazigar, Ajnabee, Humraaz, Aitraaz.
Five years after their last directorial, Abbas and Mustan are gearing up to return with multiple projects.
Two thrillers shot during the ongoing pandemic are complete, another is currently being scripted and some films are waiting to be announced.
The Burmawala brothers tell Rediff.com Senior Contributor Roshmila Bhattacharya, “The USP of Penthouse are the digital visuals. Netflix got us the equipment from Los Angeles. It’s the first time anyone here has used digital visuals.”
The first of a two-part interview:
You will be making your digital debut with Penthouse on Netflix.
Mustan: Penthouse is complete. Now it is up to Sunil Kheterpal and Netflix to decided on the release.
It’s a slick whodunit featuring Arjun Rampal, Bobby Deol, Sharman Joshi, Cyrus Broacha, Abrar Zahoor, Mouni Roy, and a beautiful Brazilian model, Larissa Bonesi, who is really good.
Isn’t Penthouse the remake of the 2014 Belgian erotic thriller The Loft?
Abbas: Yes. Sunil Kheterpal has officially bought the rights to that film, as he did with Badla (the remake of the 2016 Spanish film The Invisible Guest).
Mustan: Even his upcoming film The Intern with Amitji(Amitabh Bachchan) and Deepika (Padukone) is a remake of the American movie by the same name.
Abbas: But while Penthouse is an adaptation, we have made a lot of changes from the original and it’s a different film altogether.
When did you shoot it?
Mustan: Last year in Mumbai, in a start-to-finish schedule of 37 days.
Since it was during the pandemic, we created a bio-bubble and kept the cast and crew in hotels till the film was finished.
We created a grand set, but the USP of the film are the digital visuals.
Abbas: We shot the city’s landmarks separately, like the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, Mumbai’s trains and the like which play continuously against a croma background, giving the impression that we shot in live locations.
Mustan: If it’s a night scene, we have night visuals playing and vice versa.
Netflix got us the equipment from Los Angeles.
It’s the first time anyone here has used digital visuals and big production houses came for a dekko.
You have just announced an action thriller with lawyer-film-maker Parth Raval. When does it take off?
Abbas: Yes, we’ve known Parth for seven-eight years, a huge film buff who has been wanting to make a film with us for a while now.
We promised him that if we could hit upon an idea that excited us mutually, we would definitely collaborate. He came to to us with this concept which we loved.
It’s an action thriller, yes, but very different from what we have made before.
Mustan: The story is by a new writer who is working with a team on the screenplay which will have to be non-linear, with all the ingredients of a purely commercial film.
We will be giving our inputs too. It’s too early to set a deadline because the script has to work out first.
The countrywide lockdown was a busy and fulfilling time for many creative people.
Mustan: We worked on several scripts and you can expect a few announcements in the next couple of months.
We also completed a film last month.
Abbas (Smiling): Yes, Three Monkeys with another friend from Baroda, who is into real estate and construction, Faruk Allarakha Vohra, and venturing into film production with this thriller.
It revolves around three boys who try to pull off a bank heist.
Gandhiji preached that if anyone hits you, turn the other cheek, but if you mess with these three monkeys, they will hit back.
Mustan: We completed it in a start-to-finish schedule of 60 days, shooting in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and a grand set of a bank at Filmistan Studio.
It was tough because we had more than 50 actors and several junior artistes and they had to undergo daily RTPCR tests and invariably out of 100, 10-12 tested positive everyday and had to be sent home.
The technicians also underwent testing once a week, but fortunately, none of them were infected. By the grace of God, we managed to finish on time.
Buzz is Arjun Rampal plays a character like the Professor, the Money Heist mastermind?
Mustan: No, he’s the negotiator while Vishal Jethwa of Mardaani 2, Tenzing Dalha, who was Tasha in Guilty, and Mustafa Ali are the three monkeys.
Abbas (Smiling): Mustafa is my son.
Yes, he made his acting debut in your last directorial, the 2017 romantic thriller Machine. In retrospect, why do you think the film didn’t work?
Abbas: I think we gave Mustafa a mature and complex role too early in his career.
He’s young, people expected him to play a lover boy, not someone who would kill, and that backfired.
Machine had good songs and an interesting script, we were very satisfied despite its not doing well at the box office.
Did you expect Khiladi to spin a superhit franchise?
Abbas (Laughs): No, we didn’t. In fact, we were warned against going with this title.
Many pointed out that our film, which was a romantic thriller, would be perceived as a sports film with this title. But we stuck to it because there’s a khiladi — an all-rounder — in every field.
Mustan: Khiladi turned Akshay Kumar into Khiladi Kumar.
Any plans to bring it back?
Abbas: Khiladi is an iconic film today and while it would be okay for another director to remake it, we wouldn’t want to remake our own film.
But we are open to directing a Khiladi 2 for Venus if we can get a good script.
And we would want to do it with Akshay whom we meet often and who is still so fit, energetic and successful.
You also flagged off Kapil Sharma’s career as an actor with the romcom Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, in 2015.
Abbas: Yes, there’s a story there too.
Anukalp Goswami had brought this story to us, of a man trying to juggle three wives and a girlfriend.
We signed him in 2007-2008 and then got busy with other projects and forgot this one.
Mustan: Meanwhile, Goswami met Kapil and narrated the subject to him and he loved it.
He came to us since the subject was with us and urged us to make the film.
He was to make his debut with Yash Raj’s Bank Chor, but he urged us to make Kis Kis Ko Pyaar Karoon quickly because he wanted to be launched by us.
Our Baadshah with Shah Rukhbhai was a hit and since Kapil was a popular stand-up comedian, we decided to do the film.
Abbas: Its first day collections of Rs 10 crore 75 lakh is a record.
To this day, no film with a newcomer has earned so much on its opening day.
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