Sammir turns baddie for Apoorva Lakhia

Jun 25, 2006 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, June 26 (IANS) Sammir Dattani's goody-goody image is going out of the window - he turns a baddie with a vengeance in the title role in Mani Shankar's "Mukhbir".

In the Sanjay Gupta-produced film, for which shooting begins on Aug 1, Sammir plays a pivotal role along with an impressive ensemble that includes Sanjay Dutt, Urmila Matondkar, Viveik Oberoi, Esha Deol, Arjun Rampal, Arbaaz Khan and Tusshar Kapoor.

The rest of the cast for this true-life drama, being directed by Apoorva Lakhia, is still being finalised, including some more top-of-the-line names.

Lakhia was pretty sure he wanted only Sammir for one particular character.

"There are no small roles or stars in my film. We have made sure to cast big names in even the smallest of roles because they are all real characters. Sammir is a catalyst in the plot. The challenge is to make this very good-looking guy look like a mean, lean killer," Lakhia told IANS.

"Sammir will play a real-life character named Aslam Kasai. He was a whizkid with knives and died during a shootout, which my film will recreate. So far, Sammir has been cast as the goody-goody romantic lover-boy. I want to change his image completely," he added

Sammir, who plays the title role in "Mukhbir", has already started researching the role.

"I have always been a fan of Gupta's films. I think they are very cool. And I loved Lakhia's work in 'Mumbai Se Aaya Mera Dost' and 'Ek Ajnabee'. I believe Martin Scorsese cast Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes in 'The Aviator' because they really resembled each other.

"I'd like to think I could look like Aslam Kasai if I work on it. Playing a mean machine has always been a secret fantasy. And I think Lakhia is a master of makeovers. Look how he made Arjun Rampal look and act in 'Ek Ajnabee'."

Lakhia is determined to give Sammir an image makeover.

"That is exactly the point in casting Sammir. Arjun too was known as a looker. I want to change Sammir's image as much I changed Arjun's image in 'Ek Ajnabee'," said Lakhia.

And Gupta says he believes in promoting upcoming talents through his films.

"We truly believe in pitching for talent. Sammir is definitely a bright talent. Apart from Apoorva's film, I am going to cast him in one of the short stories in my 'Dus Kahaniyan' series, which will feature Nana Patekar also. We have big plans for him at White Feather."

Sameer is upbeat about his career.

"Things are really looking bright for me, touch wood, what with Rituparno Ghosh and Lakhia signing me on within a month of one another.

"I have also been finalised for a very big project to be shot in London with J. Murli Manohar (producer of 'Provoked'). Two other projects are about to be finalised in the next month or so. I can't ask for more... on the other hand maybe I can."

Sammir's next release is Madhur Bhandarkar's "Corporate".

"I have a guest appearance in it. It was fun shooting with Minissha Lamba, more fun for her I think. Because she keeps making up stories in the press about these practical jokes that she supposedly played on me during the shooting of 'Corporate'. None of that really happened.

"But Minissha is a nice girl. If it makes her happy to imagine stories then I don't mind being the object of her fantasy."

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