After historical, Akbar Khan plans his next on terrorism

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Dec 17 (IANS) After his epic romance "Taj Mahal", filmmaker Akbar Khan now plans to make a film called "Taxi Driver" and says it will send out a strong message on terrorism.

"It's the story of a single mother with a 10-year old kid. It will send out a great message against terrorism. It's a subject that's been close to my heart," Khan told IANS.

Khan, who gave Smita Patil a seductively psychotic role in "Haadsa", released in 1983, has been scouting for an actress to play the protagonist. But he is having trouble getting the top leading ladies to do the film.

Lara Dutta was a top contender for the part, but she is already playing a mother to a growing son in Priyadarshan's "Billoo Barber" on Shah Rukh Khan's special request.

Other screen queens are disinclined to play mom.

At the same time, Akbar is determined to revive interest in his last project "Taj Mahal". The film was released in 2005, but sank without a trace.

"God has his own ways of deciding who and what to bless at what time. Starting with the Dubai International Film Festival last year a great momentum has been created for my film. I've now made a director's international cut. I've pruned the songs and cut the length by 25 minutes to suit European and American sensibility.

"By the grace of the Almighty it was screened at Abu Dhabi three months ago and got rave reviews," he said.

On Nov 24, Akbar took "Taj Mahal" to the Cairo International Film Festival and it was also screened at the International Film Festival of India this year. He is now planning an overseas release of the film that had Zulfi Syed, Sonia Jehan, Kabir Bedi and Manisha Koirala in lead roles.

The global economic crisis doesn't bother the filmmaker, who wants to make a film on the life of Mongolian invader Genghis Khan and says the movie's budget would run into multiple millions.

"America survived even the Great Depression. This is nothing in comparison. Roti (bread), kapda (clothes), makaan (house) and manoranjan (entertainment) will never be too prohibitive," Khan said.

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