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Munnabhai...' sequel on backburner
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Has the surprise success of "Munnabhai M.B.B.S." become a burden for director Raj Kumar Hirani?
A sequel featuring the same cast - Sanjay Dutt, Arshad Warsi, Boman Irani, but no Gracy Singh - was planned and almost launched. But now Hirani is in the mood to make something entirely different with a new cast.
"It isn't as though 'Munnabhai...' has become my 'Mother India'. The impact it has made is most welcome. But it isn't as though my producer was adamant that I make 'Munnabhai LLB'," Hirani told IANS.
"It was an idea we were working on. When it didn't seem to be working out I had the freedom to move into a different direction. I can't hope to get a better producer than Vidhu Vinod Chopra. He has given me the freedom to do whatever I choose.
"I worked on the script of 'Munnabhai LLB' for five months. But now I've put that aside. Now I'd rather make another film. 'Munnabhai LLB' will definitely be made, though it won't be my next film."
Laughs Hirani: "Very honestly, I want to move into a different gear, and not to prove how versatile I am. My yardstick for making a film is simple. If a script makes me laugh or cry even once, I am happy with it.
"I'm very fascinated with another story. It takes me to a different time zone. So it's a period film. I've been watching a whole lot of films from Hollywood just to see if anyone has done anything similar. Now I'm sure what I have in mind is completely untried.
"Like 'Munnabhai..', it's a human interest story - that's what always fascinates me. It will have an element of comedy and a tongue-in-cheek comment on the whole system. Since 'Munnabhai LLB' was taking me into the same territory, I was stuck...I'll do it later. Neither Vinod nor I want to cash in on a successful formula."
Amazed at the impact that "Munnabhai...' has made, Hirani exclaims: "The actor who played Rustom used to work for Godrej. He has given up his job to become a full-time actor. And the guy who played his old dad is in the Tamil and Telugu versions of 'Munnabhai...' He plays the same role in every version. I hope they call him to Hollywood, ha ha.
"I heard a version of Munnabhai is being made in Hollywood and Pakistan. I don't know if it's true. I did come across a DVD from Pakistan entitled 'Bakra Munnabhai MBBS'," Hirani laughs.
"But frankly I've put 'Munnabhai...' behind me now. I've moved on. I'm now worried about my next film. And I'm not anxious whether it'll be as good as 'Munnabhai'."
Unlike Nikhil Advani, who made "Kal Ho Na Ho" for Karan Johar, Hirani has no plans of branching out on his own.
"Vinod Chopra's production is my own home. I even sign cheques there. Though we've no formal agreement and I'm not obligated to make all my films for him, I have no reason to move out."