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Last Updated 12.06.2024 | 9:54 PM IST
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EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria reflects on his journey on his 25th anniversary as a filmmaker; analyses his past works: “Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’s first draft had dialogues like ‘Apun tere ko bolta hai’. I said right away, ‘Ram Gopal Varma can make this film. I can’t’”

en Bollywood News EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria reflects on his journey on his 25th anniversary as a filmmaker; analyses his past works: “Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’s first draft had dialogues like ‘Apun tere ko bolta hai’. I said right away, ‘Ram Gopal Varma can make this film. I can’t’”

Milan Luthria completes 25 years as a director on February 19. In 1999, on this day, his debut directorial venture, Kachche Dhaage arrived in cinemas. Since then, he has given novel yet entertaining films like Taxi No 9211 (2006), Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010), The Dirty Picture (2011), Baadshaho (2017), Tadap (2021) as well as the recent web series, Sultan Of Delhi (2023). As he celebrated his 25th anniversary as a filmmaker, Milan Luthria spoke exclusively with Bollywood Hungama about his journey and what drives him.

EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria reflects on his journey on his 25th anniversary as a filmmaker; analyses his past works: “Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’s first draft had dialogues like ‘Apun tere ko bolta hai’. I said right away, ‘Ram Gopal Varma can make this film. I can’t’”

EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria reflects on his journey on his 25th anniversary as a filmmaker; analyses his past works: “Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai’s first draft had dialogues like ‘Apun tere ko bolta hai’. I said right away, ‘Ram Gopal Varma can make this film. I can’t’”

Milan Luthria began by saying, “For a person who was groomed under Mr Mahesh Bhatt, I wanted to make my kind of a film. I didn’t want to make his kind of films. He accepted my point of view very nicely. He offered me a couple of films when I was with them. I told him, ‘Sir, I’ll become like you’. I learned what I had to and I wanted to do my own thing.”

He explained what drew him to the idea of Kachche Dhaage, “I had an interest in doing a Western-meets-desi kind of cinema. This was also the period we had not seen a two-hero film for a long time. I grew up watching Deewaar (1975), Sholay (1975), Trishul (1978), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978) etc. These films had action, strong heroes, beautiful women, music, good locations etc. Kachche Dhaage brought that era back. Many heroes had stopped working with each other. There was a competitive spirit. Hence, this film came as a double bonanza. It had Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan. It also had Manisha Koirala, who was a huge star at that time. I then became comfortable with the two-hero set-up and repeated it in Taxi No 9211, Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, Sultan Of Delhi etc.”

He continued, “The second achievement was that it was a road film. Nobody had attempted a story where the characters were constantly on the move. Hence, this was a novelty. The characters are on trains, horses, bikes, jeeps etc. It was a difficult shoot. We shot in Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Pune etc. We had to keep on shifting locations.”

Milan Luthria then revealed his mantra, “Break the clutter, whenever you can. Don’t do what the others are doing. Do what you believe in, even if it is not being done. For instance, no one would have thought of making a film like The Dirty Picture. Kachche Dhaage broke that myth ki ‘if XYZ are making this kind of film, then ABC also has to follow him’. That’s how you stand out. And you have to be relevant. I am not someone who believes in milestones. Milestones are just good memories. You have to leave the memory behind and move on with the times. Nevertheless, today, it’s fun to revisit and see all these photographs again.” The interview was being conducted in Milan’s office where he nicely displayed well-preserved posters of Kachche Dhaage while he went down memory lane.

Milan Luthria further said, “To keep yourself fresh is the number one priority. And you cannot stay fresh if you are constantly indulging in film industry gossip and conversations. Then, you would walk on the same path as others. Just because a particular kind of film has clicked, you don’t have to do the same. And this is very common in our industry – people start following a trend until that trend breaks. I have always kept myself like a sponge. If I come across an idea and it makes a connection with me, then I don’t care about cast, genre etc. Taxi No 9211 was a completely unexpected film then. I never thought that I’d do a war-based film like Deewaar (2004). It was a great experience. Unfortunately, it was released at the wrong time when a couple of war films had not done well.”

He added, “When Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai came my way, I wondered, ‘Now what do I do with the gangster genre? Am I making Company (2002) again?’ The first draft had dialogues like ‘Apun tere ko bolta hai’, ‘Aisa nahin karne ka’ etc. I said right away, ‘Ramu (Ram Gopal Varma) can make this film. I can’t’. When I was asked, ‘If not this, then what?’, my answer was, ‘Let’s refer to Salim-Javed’. This is how we changed the language, flamboyance, look etc. That gave a fresh experience to the viewers.”

Milan further opened up, “Then, The Dirty Picture happened. People called it ‘porn’ and ‘filthy’ and that I have gone mad! But we believed in it. The bottom-line is – stay away from the churning of the business. Maintain your individuality. Secondly, you can never get lazy in this business. You have to be fit and sharp. You have to work very hard.”

The acclaimed filmmaker then talked about the filmmakers who inspired him and why he doesn’t want to jump onto the box office discussion bandwagon, “My idols are Yash Chopra, and also Ron Howard, Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorsese. They are still making phenomenal films. Obviously, they are not asking ‘Uss film ki kya opening lagi’, ‘Monday ko drop hui kya’. This is not a filmmaker’s conversation. Martin Scorsese put up a post the other day, ‘What’s the problem with the world? Why are we only talking about numbers? We are filmmakers. We need to talk about the story, characters, music, locations’. I’d like to follow these guys and see where they are going. They have stayed so brilliantly with the times.”

Milan Luthria admitted that there’s a lot of hard work in film direction but he enjoys the experience, “It comes with a hundred headaches of casting actors, controlling the budget, finalizing script, finding hit songs, promotions, doing the background score, getting good costumes etc. Then, you also need to get along with your producers, technicians, distributors and journalists. You have to be cordial. As they say, keep it simple, stupid (smiles).”

He also added, “You also want to realize that, there’s nothing really great about you. There are many that are better than you and there are many who will be better than you. Just give your best.”

Milan Luthria then once again gets back to analysing his past projects and also reveals that a fresh project is on the anvil, “I did Tadap as it was a remarkable story. For a young romance, it had a remarkable twist. Tara Sutaria did such a great job. Ahan Shetty is a fine performer; look at what he did in the climax. Unfortunately, the film was released in the Covid times. It was also exciting to do Sultan Of Delhi. And now, there’s something exciting coming up. It’s almost locked. It’s a film and it’s something that I have not done before. And it’ll be mounted on a big canvas.”

Also Read: Milan Luthria once confronted Ajay Devgn for committing for a shoot date; the actor told him: “Your film will start in two months”

More Pages: Tadap Box Office Collection , Tadap Movie Review


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