John Abraham was the director's first choice for 'Blue'

Mumbai, Nov 10 (IANS) John Abraham was the first choice of director Anthony D'Souza for the big budget underwater action adventure "Blue". But he had to settle for Zayed Khan instead after John could'nt give the dates.

"I'm very fond of John and he was my first choice for the role that Zayed is playing now," D'Souza, who is debuting as a director with "Blue", told IANS.

"John could not do the film because of personal reasons and prior commitments. After John I had Zayed in mind and I am glad that things worked out with him. But I hope to work with John in future," he added.

Zayed plays a flamboyant youngster who lives in Bangkok. He gets into trouble and escapes from there to the Bahamas to meet the other two lead characters played by Sanjay Dutt and Akshay Kumar. The film also stars Lara Dutta, Kartina Kaif and Rahul Dev.

Commenting on Sanjay and Akshay's presence in the film, D'Souza said: "I feel extremely fortunate to have them in the film. I had both the actors in mind while scripting the film. When the producer asked me, I told him and I am glad we have them."

D'Souza says he hadn't signed on the two because of their star value. "More than stars, I think Akshay and Sanjay are great actors. In spite of being a big star, Akshay puts in tremendous hard work and dedication to his work. He often would reach the sets before me. And Sanjay's experience helped me a lot. I have learnt so much from him."

"Blue" is said to be the costliest Bollywood film till date - it is being made at a whopping Rs.1,290 million, but the director wants it to be called a good film than a big-budget film.

"Yes, it is a big film but I don't know about the exact budget. It is more of the producer's call and I think they have put in the money because they felt that they can recover it. But I wish people call it a good film rather than a big film."

According to the director, "Blue" is the first Indian film to have been extensively shot underwater with real sharks.

"After 'Samraat' and 'Aatank', 'Blue' is the third underwater Indian film. The film has been shot extensively underwater with a longest screen time of 20-25 minutes," D'Souza said

While Hollywood cinematographer Pete Zuccarini, who has done films like "Pirates Of the Carribean" and "Deep Blue Sea", was hired to shoot the underwater sequence, James Bomalick of "Indiana Jones" fame has choreographed the action scenes.

D'Souza said nearly 40 untrained sharks were used to shoot the underwater action sequence with Akshay, Sanjay and Zayed.

While Zayed is a certified scuba diver, Sanjay, Akshay and Lara had to go through a scuba diving course for the film.

"Despite a severe lung problem, Sanjay had to go for a scuba diving course in Bangkok for the film. It was a one-and-a-half- week course. Akshay also did the course. And Lara was trained in Mauritius," he said.

The major portion of the film, which is set in the Bahamas and Bangkok, is complete and now the director will shoot the last schedule in India in January next year.

"We have completed the shoot in Thailand and the Bahamas and now we will be going for our last schedule in February where I will be shooting two songs and a few other indoor scenes in India," said D'Souza.

Produced by Shree Ashtavinayak Cine Vision Ltd, the film is scheduled for a May 29 release.

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