The original film starred Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi but in the sequel 'Once Upon A Time in Mumbaai Dobaara', Akshay Kumar has replaced Hashmi as Shoaib with Imran Khan and Sonakshi Sinha playing new characters. The film releases on August 15.
"In 'The Godfather' trilogy, same character was played by Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro. Similarly, it was an interesting experiment for me to introduce new actors. Emraan could not have played the role because we needed an older actor to play Shoaib in the sequel," Luthria said. The director admits that the experiment was not easy but he is confident that it will benefit the franchise.
He has earlier denied that the film is inspired by Dawood Ibrahim or Chhota Shakeel. "I have retained the essence of Shoaib's character. He is evil, flamboyant, enigmatic and unpredictable but I have let Akshay interpret it in his own way. The equations have changed this time. While Shoaib was the protege in the original film, he is the mentor in the sequel," Luthria added.
The original film was about the power struggle between two gangster but Luthria has brought in a beautiful woman to create conflict this time. "I am attempting a love story in the gangster setting. This time it is about matters of the heart. 'The Dirty Picture' helped me find a loyal female audience and I wanted to reconnect with them again with the love triangle."
Luthria admits that it took some time to bring Akshay out of his established image to play a thoroughly evil character in the sequel but he is happy with the results. "There were moments when Akshay would slip out of the character but we would work on it immediately. He was very eager to do it the way I wanted because he is a huge fan of the first part. "Also, Akshay is a hassle free man. Before shooting, we met several times as I wanted to see his vibe. I needed to know the things that I would change in him. We put him through a rigorous schedule of costume trial, hair trial and reading sessions. I don't think he does that in his other films. He gave a lot of his time and energy to this film."
Similarly, Luthria has cast Imran against his popular romantic image in the film and he claims the young actor has done full justice to the dramatic role. "Both Emraan and Imran came to me with similar baggage. They were not being taken seriously in dramatic roles. There is something very likable about Imran which helps our film and he had done a superb job. Imran is the surprise package of this film, the dark horse."
The trailer of the film opens with Shoaib entering the cricket field, a sequence that Luthria shot a year ago. Luthria says the recent match fixing scandal was an act of marketing providence. "We shot that scene a year ago and it was a coincidence that the time of the trailer and the scandal was the same. It was an act of marketing providence."
Photos: Shah Rukh Khan, Shweta Bachchan at Karan Johar's book launch
Photos: Sunny Deol with sons Karan and Rajvir at Mumbai airport
Photos: 10 beautiful moments that capture winter around the world
Photos: Karisma Kapoor, Preity Zinta, Shraddha Kapoor at Mumbai airport
Spotted: Anushka Sharma and Diljit Dosanjh at Mumbai studio