Milan Luthria denies Taxi is a rip-off | india | Hindustan Times
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Milan Luthria denies Taxi is a rip-off

The director talks about Taxi No 9 2 11 and more. View pictures|Film review

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 18:21 IST

Director Milan Luthria has tasted success after a long time with his light-hearted comedy Taxi No. 9 2 11 but denies it is a remake of Hollywood film Collateral.

"It isn't a remake of the Tom Cruise-Jamie Foxx film Collateral. That's a very dark film," said Luthria, who is reclusive to the point of being invisible.

"I like it that way. Better to let my work speak for me," Luthria saidin an interview. Why did he choose the strange title Taxi No. 9 2 11?

"Just a title suggested by someone, which we thought suited the film's mood."

"Ours is a light-hearted film. The whole idea was to do a film against the clock, like Run Lola Run, Phone Booth and Enemy of The State. It's a story in a mad city and what happens to two guys who meet one day," he added.

Nana Patekar and John Abraham, the main stars of the film, are thrown together quite often.

"And that's how we liked it. They play two guys who don't want to take responsibility for their lives being in disarray. They come to a point where they realise they are quite like each other."

Male bonding seems to be Luthria's forte.

Though Taxi No. 9 2 11 is largely song-less Milan Luthria isn't against the song-and-dance formula.

"I agree my

Kachche Dhaage

was also about the bonding between Ajay Devgan and Saif Ali Khan. But it was hardly the first of its kind. I'd say my producer Ramesh Sippy's

Sholay

was the first big male bonding film.

"It's a nice territory to explore. It always breaks the clutter. Taxi No. 9 2 11 breaks the mould, though I can't say whether it cracks a new genre. Maybe it's been done somewhere."

Luthria cracks up at the mention of Nana and John.

"John had his young school kids and girls, Nana had his cabbies and street-wallahs visiting on the sets. I'd look at them and say, 'The film is coming together after all.'

"When we started out Nana has taken a hiatus. John wasn't doing well at all - he had given Elaan, Karam, etc. It was very hard to raise funds. We were told we were going down the wrong road. But Ramesh ji is a man of very strong convictions. We pulled through."

Though Taxi No. 9 2 11 is largely song-less Luthria isn't against the song-and-dance formula.

"I saw some lovely films recently. But I got restless watching them, because of the songs. I wanted the story to get on... songs and dances will always be there. Though city audiences in India aren't so fond of the formula, overseas audiences still love it. I think the old formula has to be adjusted to audiences' limited attention span."

It wasn't easy for Luthria to move away from the traditional song-and-dance formula that he embraced in Kachche Dhaage.

"I changed my entire team. I got a crew from Los Angeles, got a new-age music director Vishal-Shekhar. I still remember Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who did the music in Kachche Dhaage telling me, 'You've given me a treat to my ears'. I feel music in a film touches the soul. Even in Taxi No. 9 2 11 I have used a couple of songs in the background."

Luthria is moved by the Sippys' faith in his talent.

"They left the whole film to me, though they were always there to help when I got stuck. The best thing about them was they didn't push us to hurry up. We shot Taxi No. 9 2 11 in 45 days."

The director is now set to direct a young love story for the Sippys.

"I intend to get prolific now. Earlier, things got out of my hands. Chori Chori took too long to make. I couldn't abandon it when it was stuck. The same happened with Deewaar. Due to the combination dates of the huge stars the film took too long to make. I had the option to start another film and go back to Deewaar."

Luthria is happy making his love story for Sippy.

"When my writer Rajat Arora narrated it to me I was stunned. It is a very young and modern love story with established stars, with music. The music will be by Vishal-Shekhar. They have a soft romantic side to them. When I gave them Laxmikant-Pyarelal's Ek pyar ka nagma hai as reference Shekhar went mad. God, I miss that era! How much musical talent! They were the Tendulkars of their times."

He talks about some recent films.

Maqbool and Iqbal were amazing... I didn't like some of the successful films in recent times. I didn't think much of Bunty Aur Babli or No Entry while some gems like Iqbal went unnoticed.

"I am happy about Kalyug with new talent, exciting music... Rang De Basanti had me floored. I wish the new directors would get madly in love with the medium. Flashy lifestyles have overtaken true commitment."

Unfulfilled wish?

"To make a successful film with Mr Bachchan (Amitabh Bachchan). Too bad our 'Deewaar' didn't work. There's so much to learn from him. There's a lot to come in the near future. I have come to a stage in my career when I am in control of the medium. I like to stamp myself in every department of the film. My family thinks Taxi No. 9 2 11 is my best work to date."