Kaizad Gustad, who returns to direction after 10 years hopes to rake in the moolah with the gangster film Jackpot

He was the multiplex maharaja before they (multiplexes, not maharajas) were part of our subconscious. When Bombay Boys came out in 1998, the world — at least movie mad Indians clapped their hands in naked wonder at the crazy, kooky tale of three young men who come to find their destiny in the city of dreams. The film which was four years in the making, made a star of its unconventional director, Kaizad Gustad.

Bombay Boys was the first film of its kind in the pre-multiplex days,” Kaizad says over the phone. “Those days you had to sell a film to a 1,200-strong audience and I sold Bombay Boys.” So did you feel vindicated? “Vindicated is a big word!” Kaizad says with a laugh. After Bombay Boys came, ahem, Boom (2003) and fast forward 10 years to Jackpot. In the interim there was Bombil and Beatrice (2007) which Kaizad describes as “a sweet little art house love story” as well as The Road to Mandalay: South East Asia on Speed, (2005) a “coffee table book,” a photographic journal of the India-ASEAN Car Rally.

Kaizad describes Jackpot, which stars Naseeruddin Shah, Sunny Leone and Sachiin Joshi as his “first

step into the good/bad world of mainstream cinema. It is a comedy con thriller. Jackpot is about a briefcase stuffed with cash, guns and a beautiful woman. The movie plays out like a game.”

A suitcase, guns and a sexy femme fatale bring to mind a certain Mr Tarantino and a shiny briefcase.

“I am a great admirer of his work, but Jackpot has nothing in common with Pulp Fiction apart from the fact that both movies feature a briefcase.”

Insisting that for him “the story is paramount,” the 45-year-old director says, “Style is also important to me. I believe in making a particular imprint; in style and substance, in putting my thumbprint.”

Describing the film as “ode to Goa,” Kaizad says, “I love Goa in the rains. It’s magical. I always wanted to shoot a caper film in Goa during the monsoon; with slashing rain and crazy characters. Everything is unpredictable. Time itself seems elastic, you can bend it at will; go forwards, backwards. Shooting in Goa in the rains meant ending up with a film that is looks lush (Cinematography: Artur Zurawski). And boy does it rain! It was tough but we finished shooting in 37 days.”

Never one to shy away from experimentation, Kaizad says, “The film has a non-linear structure with a lot of aage peeche going on.”

Apart from the rain and Goa, Kaizad says, “Jackpot is a tribute to the long-lost noir — of strong men biting off sardonic wisecracks, beautiful femme fatales weaving a web of deceit, plots and sub plots going this way and that. Another characteristic of noirs is the location, which is a character like Polanski’s Chinatown where Los Angeles has a distinct persona.”

Music by John Stewart has 10 tracks featuring a vast array of artistes including Remo. As Kaizad exclaims, “you cannot have a movie set in Goa without a song from Remo!” Mika Singh, Sunidhi Chauhan, Jaaved Jaaferi and Shreya Ghoshal have also sung songs.

While Naseer as boss complete with Rasta hair, flowery shirts and Lennon shades looks like a character, adult star Sunny Leone as Maya, boss’s secretary seems to have generated the maximum buzz. Of working with Naseer for the second time, (after Bombay Boys) Kaizad says: “It was a lot of fun. Naseer plays the zaniest, craziest character. Believe me, the boys who come to Jackpot to see Sunny are going to be floored by Naseer. Casting Sunny was purely by chance. She is a sport, honest and hardworking.”

Talking about his return to cinema after a 10-year-break Kaizad feels, “the biggest change has been audience’ perception. They are open to new and original ideas.”

So was Boom ahead of its time? “You know people have always told me Boom was ahead of its time; as a compliment. But I always felt Boom was of its time. It is always a good time to experiment.”

Boom, a stylish caper film involving three super models — Padma Lakshmi, Madhu Sapre and an incredibly young Katrina Kaif, an eccentric gangster played by Amitabh Bachchan, his lovely secretary, (welcome back Zeenie baby) and assorted thugs was roasted by the critics. “I loved the roasting! Being praised or panned for a film is fine. The worst sin is indifference. Some kind of reaction is always welcome.” So it is going to be bouquets or brickbats for ‘Full Jhol’ Jackpot?

Come December 13 and all will be revealed.