Akbar Khan is hunting for an actress to play a single mom in his next

By Subhash K. Jha, Bollywood Hungama News Network

After his marathon epic Taj Mahal, Akbar Khan is now planning to start a quickie entitled Taxi Driver.

Says Khan who gave Smita Patil a seductively psychotic role in Haadsa four decades ago, "It's the story of a single mother with a ten-year old kid...sends out a great message against terrorism. It's a subject that's been close to my heart."

Apparently, Akbar Khan has been having trouble getting the top leading ladies for the role. Lara Dutta was a top contender for the part. But she's already playing a mother to a growing son on Shah Rukh Khan's very special request in Priyadarshan's Billoo Barber.

Other screen queens are disinclined to play mum. Akbar Khan will look seriously for the young sexy mom in Taxi Driver. Right now, he's determined to revive interest in his last project Taj Mahal.

Long before Zulfi Syed went into Bigg Boss, he played Shah Jehan in Akbar Khan's rendering of Taj Mahal. And now the producer-director hopes to cash in on Zulfi's popularity on television to win a large audience for his neglected epic. "God has his own ways of deciding who and what to bless at what time. Zulfi will be joining me in Goa later this month for the 'All India Premiere Of Akbar Khan's Directors' Cut Of Taj Mahal'. I'm glad Zulfi is out of Bigg Boss. I was hoping he'd win and we could've a double celebration in Goa."

Says Khan, "Starting with the Dubai film festival last year, a great momentum has been created for my film. I've now made a director's international cut. I've cut some of the songs and edited the material to suggest a European and American sensibility. I've pruned the songs and cut the length by 25 minutes."

On November 24, Akbar Khan took Taj Mahal (released three years ago) to the Cairo International Film Festival. "By the grace of the Almighty, it will be shown at the Goa International Film Festival as a tribute to the Taj Mahal on the November 30. It was screened at Abu Dhabi three months ago and got rave reviews. I've just returned from Syria where the film was screened."

Khan blames the film's poor marketing for its poor show at the box-office. "You cannot attribute the film's low opening in India to the lack of stars. Some of the biggest hits of all times like Bobby, Hero and more recently, Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na and Rock On have starred newcomers. Any good product marketed badly fails. I was a victim of various marketing failures."

Akbar Khan is now planning an overseas release of Taj Mahal. He also wants to do a film on the life of Changez Khan whose budget would run into multiple crores.

The recession doesn't bother Akbar. "America survived even the Great Depression. This is nothing in comparison. Roti kapada makaan aur manoranjan will never be too prohibitive."

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