New Delhi: Kabir Khan's second film of the year, Phantom, is set to release this Friday. There are huge expectations from the film after the phenomenal success of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, which has entered the Rs 600 crore club and is India's second highest grossing film ever after PK.
Thanks to the ban across the border in Pakistan, the free publicity received by Phantom is likely to help it at the box office. After all, if the mastermind of 26/11, Hafiz Saeed, thinks Phantom should not be seen, then Indians will conclude just the opposite and, hopefully, go to see the film in droves.
Here are five interesting facts which will deepen your appreciation of the Saif Ali Khan and Katrina Kaif starrer when you watch it!
1. This is the third film based on a book by crime reporter turned author Hussain Zaidi. The first was Anurag Kashyap's Black Friday based on a book of the same name while the second was Sanjay Gupta's Shootout at Wadala based on Dongri to Dubai: Six Decades of the Mumbai Mafia. Both those books were works of non-fiction. Phantom, on the contrary, is based on Mumbai Avengers, which is a work of fiction. Or, rather, 'faction' since it is a blend of fact and fiction. Mumbai Avengers was released in April this year by Minister of State for External Affairs and former Army Chief, General VK Singh.
2. Phantom is one of the rare Bollywood films to be shot in Lebanon. The first Bollywood film to be shot here was An Evening in Paris, starring Shammi Kapoor and Sharmila Tagore. Despite its title, one of the songs from the film was shot in Lebanon and not Paris. The makers of Phantom originally intended to film in Syria but the ongoing civil war there forced them to move next door to Lebanon. A few action scenes were shot in and around Beirut and some actual militants from Amal, a Shia Muslim militia based in the Lebanese capital, participated in the shooting.
3. The town of Malerkotla in India was chosen to recreate Pakistan in the film. Malerkotla is the only Muslim majority town in Indian Punjab. According to cinematographer Aseem Mishra, "Kabir, the production designer and I narrowed down Malerkotla because of its mosque, local people, narrow lanes and overall architecture, which creates the verisimilitude of a town from Pakistan." A former princely state founded by an Afghan ruler in 1454, Malerkotla was an oasis of peace during the 1947 partition riots that engulfed Punjab. Incidentally, the makers of Hollywood film Zero Dark Thirty also filmed their Pakistan scenes in India. But they chose the town of Manimajra in the union territory of Chandigarh.
4. Katrina Kaif will not be dancing in a film for the first time since Rajneeti, which was released in 2010. Katrina, who plays a Parsi for the first time in her movie career, appears in the song Afghan Jalebi composed by music director Pritam. Despite being known for her dancing skills, she does not shake a leg during the song much to the disappointment of her fans. In the past, it was normal for Bollywood actors to break out of character for song sequences. But today's audiences are sophisticated and such a move would risk inviting brickbats from more discerning viewers.
5. The song Afghan Jalebi was filmed on the second floor of Mumbai's famous Mehboob Studio because it is the lucky charm of producer Sajid Nadiadwala. Ever since his movie Kick was shot there and became a superhit, Sajid has insisted on shooting a scene from all his films on the second floor of the studio. Three other films of his that are yet to be released, Baaghi, Dishoom and Tamasha, have also been shot here. Sajid reportedly booked the second floor for several months so that he could have access to it whenever required. Founded by director Mehboob Khan, Mehboob Studio is where many iconic Bollywood films, including Mother India, Kaagaz ke Phool and Guide, were filmed.