Deepika Padukone and Saif Ali Khan in Race 2
Abbas on why Race 2 isn’t a sequel to their 2008 box-office hit and why they want to explore other genres.
Is Race 2 a sequel to Race?
Race 2 has a completely different story from the first film. Race was the story of two brothers and pivoted on the face-off between Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna’s characters. In Race 2, Saif is playing Ranvir Singh yet again but the conflict this time is between Saif and John Abraham. The only other character that returns from the first film is Anil Kapoor’s Robert D’Costa. Definitely, in keeping with the franchise, there are ample twists and turns in the film, but it’s a new story. There is romance and a lot of high-voltage action. Our cast is top-of-the-line and the songs by Pritam have become very popular; Party On My Mind is now a party anthem.
Many felt that Race had too many twists and turns that left viewers confused…
A thriller is supposed to be edge-of-the-seat stuff… it must keep you guessing all the time. I know Race had a twist every few reels, but that was the uniqueness of the film. For every viewer who said that he couldn’t comprehend the film after a point, there were 10 others who loved the format. That we have made Race 2 in the same mould shows that there is a demand for such films.
Race was a huge box-office hit. Did that create pressure while filming Race 2?
It didn’t. But the fact that our last film (Players) wasn’t accepted at all... did (create pressure). Unfortunately, one is always known by their last Friday and with Players being a flop, we needed to bounce back. Mustan and I are very happy that Race 2 is our next release because we are sure that the viewers are going to love what we have come up with this time.
Race 2 ran into trouble early on with Deepika Padukone threatened with a lawsuit after she walked out…
We always knew that we wanted Deepika for the role and even she was always very keen on the film. It’s just that her schedule went a little haywire and she thought that it was best to drop out at the start rather than inconvenience us later. The producers (Tips), however, managed to work out things and we were very relieved that Deepika was able to do the film.
We have worked with Ameesha (Patel) earlier (in Humraaz), but it was our first time with Deepika and Jacqueline (Fernandez) and we can safely say that you have never seen Deepika in the kind of role she plays in Race 2. She’s never done a thriller before and her character also has a lot of grey shades. Like Race, all the characters border on the negative; you will not know who is right or who is wrong at any given time in the film.
What are the challenges of making a star-studded film?
It’s always a huge challenge to make multi-starcast films and here we had to balance three heroes and three heroines (laughs). Even while keeping the thriller template in mind, we had to work on a screenplay which gave adequate footage to all. We made sure that we never deviated from the script and every character was well defined.
Will Abbas-Mustan only make thrillers?
Though we have always made thrillers, our films invariably have romance, action, comedy, emotion and drama. It’s not that we don’t want to make hard-hitting or realistic films, but production houses always approach us for action thrillers because that’s our forte... that’s what we are known for. But yes, we are very keen to take a break from this genre and experiment.
A-M’s Fave 5
Khiladi: A whodunit in the Teesri Manzil mould. The audience loved the fact that the film kept them guessing till the end.
Baazigar: Our habit of casting mainstream heroes in negative roles started with Shah Rukh Khan in Baazigar. We have continued it with John Abraham in Race 2.
Baadshah: The film had a fun blend of comedy, action and suspense.
Ajnabee: We explored the man-woman relationship even while keeping the thriller element intact.
Race: Kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.