Vipul Shah’s directorial debut, Aankhen fronted by Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Paresh Rawal and Sushmita Sen, has completed 20 years of its release today. The filmmaker informs that while the film is a success, back in the day, not many believed in the story. “The entire industry was wondering how the audience would accept the concept of three blind men robbing a bank. I was a TV and theatre guy before, so for me to be able to get this kind of cast was a near impossible task. They all agreed and accepted the novelty of the idea. That’s how things started rolling,” recalls Vipul Shah.
The film was the fourth highest grosser of 2022. “I was so new that I never got any figures. I used to judge the success based on the amount of phone calls the producers got. That was my barometer and even today, I don’t know the real numbers of Aankhen. All I know is, it’s among the most successful films of 2022,” he admits. Sharing a trivia about this thriller, Vipul insists that the thriller was always conceptualised as a franchise.
“In-fact, we released the film with two different endings in India and abroad. The overseas print had an open end where Amit ji gets out of the jail to reach the station where Akshay and Arjun are waiting for their train. He says a dangerous game is about to begin and the end credits start rolling. I was told, India is not ready for such open-ended stories as the concept of sequel didn’t exist back then. So, I had to cut that out of the Indian version. The film was originally designed as a sequel with an open end. Now, we have all moved on,” Vipul smiles.
Aankhen also started a partnership of sorts for Vipul with Akshay, as they went ahead to work in Waqt, Namaste London, Singh Is Kinng and Action Replay. “Akshay would go an extra mile to ensure that the set environment is beautiful. He is also a very professional and disciplined person to work with. Back in the day, not many took him seriously as an actor, but I always felt he had so much to offer. Everything just worked well with us and we went ahead to collaborate on so many more films,” he concludes.
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