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Last Updated 22.02.2024 | 9:43 PM IST
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EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria talks about Sultan Of Delhi and his love for train sequences and two-hero stories: “If 8 or 9 actors had not agreed to do two-hero films, we would have missed out on great cinema like Deewaar, Sholay, Trishul, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar”

en Bollywood News EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria talks about Sultan Of Delhi and his love for train sequences and two-hero stories: “If 8 or 9 actors had not agreed to do two-hero films, we would have missed out on great cinema like Deewaar, Sholay, Trishul, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar”

Milan Luthria appeared excited as Bollywood Hungama exclusively spoke to him two days before his debut web series, Sultan Of Delhi, dropped on Disney+ Hotstar. The acclaimed filmmaker spoke about the show, his love for trains and two-hero sagas and a lot more.

EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria talks about Sultan Of Delhi and his love for train sequences and two-hero stories: “If 8 or 9 actors had not agreed to do two-hero films, we would have missed out on great cinema like Deewaar, Sholay, Trishul, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar”

EXCLUSIVE: Milan Luthria talks about Sultan Of Delhi and his love for train sequences and two-hero stories: “If 8 or 9 actors had not agreed to do two-hero films, we would have missed out on great cinema like Deewaar, Sholay, Trishul, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar”

How was your experience of shooting a web show? Suparn Varma exclusively told us that you asked him to come over and co-direct after the series went on floors…
It was new for sure. It was also a little unnerving as it was a first for me. I have worked for directors like Ramesh Sippy, Rohan Sippy etc (in the capacity of producers). I remember the first day he came on the set. I finished my work and he was taking over for the rest of the day. I thought of having a chat with him. Just outside, I stopped. I told my associate that I wouldn’t cross the line. One day, it so happened that I was handing over a part of the sequence to him. I had to give him the brief for a scene. And that’s what I did and nothing more. I didn’t want to have any pressure on him. That’s the only way this would have worked. We did discuss a few things. Like once he wanted to know the exact intensity in a sequence that I had envisioned.

I am grateful that Suparn came in when I needed him. The workload pressure got really heavy. I had to focus on other things like recording songs, planning for future scenes etc. It taught me one more way of collaboration. Whether you collaborate on Instagram or 5 or 6 companies to bring a film or a show out, collaboration is the mantra today (smiles).

You depicted old Bombay in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai (2010). Other shows this year like Jubilee and Bambai Meri Jaan, too, depicted the same. But very rarely we have seen old Delhi. How was that experience?
I didn’t know much about Delhi. It was difficult to achieve. Delhi has grown inorganically. It’s not like Vienna or Rome or Paris where time has stood still. Our cities developed in random ways. We had to do thousands of kilometres of recce around Delhi in places that looked like old Delhi. That took us to Punjab where we found a haveli, university, hotel, bungalow etc. We also looked at former royal properties. Those people have kept the furniture in the same style and even maintained it beautifully. We have also gone to the desert. Then the Delhi railway station of 1947 was recreated in Punjab in a village called Khasa. It is the last station before Pakistan. Moreover, there’s only one steam engine in India. We had to get it from Haryana to the Indo-Pak border. It wasn’t easy. Nevertheless, it was fun.

In almost all your films, trains have played a crucial part. In Sultan Of Delhi, there’s a scene where Arjun (Tahir Raj Bhasin) and Bangali (Anjjum Shharma) are sitting on the top of the train. They could have sat in the bogie but you thought out of the box, giving the scene a nice touch…
Train for me is a character. It has power, speed, danger and also a certain kind of masculinity. I read somewhere that Salim-Javed used to have train sequences in many of their films. Also, people love the train connection. The Kachche Dhaage (1999) sequence was very well-received. It was very difficult to shoot. We were on that train for 11 days. It was so hot that we couldn’t even touch the metal or else our hand would burn. By the end of it, we never wanted to sit on a train again!

After pickup, we used to sit on the top of the train. We would put the mattress on the top where all of us would sit. We would sing songs and play antakshari while the train returned to Udaipur railway station.

As for Anjjum and Tahir, I told them ‘Hop on’. They asked me, ‘Where are we sitting?’. I replied, ‘On top’! They were puzzled. I said, ‘Why not? It’s our train. We can do whatever we want’! They were zapped but they went for it. We got a lovely landscape in the shot. Later they told me when they got down that ‘This was our Kachche Dhaage moment’!

Most of your projects have had two heroes. Many avoid such films as they would mean handling their egos. What is it about two-hero films or shows that attract you?
It’s a good question! Firstly, when we were kids, my friends and cousins were divided between whether we were Amitabh Bachchan fans or Vinod Khanna fans. At that time, they did lovely two hero films like Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Khoon Pasina (1977) etc. A lot of such movies were made at that time especially Amitabh Bachchan starrers starring Shashi Kapoor or Vinod Khanna or Dharmendra. That left a mark on me perhaps.

Moreover, all of us have two sides to our personalities. One is what we show the world and one is what we keep inside. And when you have two characters who are equal and opposite, you can see two sides of the human psyche. It helps me bring out two sides of it, as evident by Ajay Devgn and Emraan Hashmi in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, Ajay Devgn and Saif Ali Khan in Kachche Dhaage or John Abraham and Nana Patekar in Taxi No 9211 (2006). I also feel that the actors up their game in two-hero films. They know that they have to be as good if not better than the other guy. It is indeed difficult to get them to do it. But I wish more and more would do it. It happens primarily because of their trust in the director.

If 8 or 9 actors had not agreed to do two-hero films, we would have missed out on great cinema. We would not have had a Deewaar, Sholay, Trishul, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar etc. If you look abroad, it’s so beautiful to see a Martin Scorsese film or a Quentin Tarantino film where Al Pacino will do 4 scenes or Robert De Niro will act in 8 scenes. That’s the fun of it.

Is season 2 in the offing?
Yes. What drew me to the book and the show was this dramatic ending. The rest of the show is entertaining. But it takes a turn from the seventh episode. That’s the real juice of the show. If you see, a lot of people die in my movies whether it's Ajay Devgn, Vidya Balan or Ahan Shetty (smiles).

We have taken only 1/3rd of the book. So a chunk of the story will be depicted in Season 2 and then in Season 3. New characters will come in. But it’ll have a dramatic, entertaining format.

Arjun, who plays the Sultan of Delhi in Sultan Of Delhi, is ruling at the same time as Sultan Mirza, the character played by Ajay Devgn in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, is ruling Bombay. It’s the era of crossovers. Hence, can we expect Sultan of Delhi meeting Sultan Mirza?
(Laughs) It’s the first time anyone has mentioned it. Let me give it a thought. It sounds very good!

Also Read: Milan Luthria pens lyrics for ‘Saaqiya’ in Sultan of Delhi: “When this song was composed, I fell in love with its Sufi spirit”

More Pages: Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Box Office Collection , Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Movie Review


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