'Teen Patti' not inspired by Hollywood hit: Leena Yadav

Mumbai, Aug 11 (IANS) Director Leena Yadav denies that her second film "Teen Patti", starring Amitabh Bachchan, is inspired by the recent Hollywood flick "21".

Robert Luketic's "21" is about a mathematics professor who trains six of his brightest students at the game of blackjack and sends them off to Las Vegas for high-stake gambling every weekend.

"I don't deny the two films sound similar although I haven't seen '21'. My script was written long before '21' was released. So there's no question of me being inspired by the film," Yadav told IANS. Her first film was the Aishwarya Rai-Sanjay Dutt starrer "Shabd".

"21" is inspired by a real-life incident where a group of students from the Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT) and other prominent US institutes were chosen and trained as blackjack players.

Known as the MIT Blackjack Team, the card players remained operative for decades and were the subject of a best-selling book "Bringing Down The House" by Ben Mezrich.

Yadav admits her film is inspired by the daredevilry of the MIT Blackjack Team.

"But we obviously made many changes. For one, we couldn't have the game of blackjack. No one in India understands blackjack. Also the motivations had to change. But yes, like '21' and many other contemporary films, 'Teen Patti' is a study of materialism, greed and acquisitiveness in our times."

The film is to be shot in Boston after initial hiccups and delays including Arshad Warsi's exit from the project. Actor R. Madhavan has now been roped instead.

"The delay was unfortunate. But my producer Ambika Hinduja and I were very clear that Mr. Bachchan was the film's fulcrum. Everyone's dates had to be adjusted according to his convenience. Now people will draw comparisons between 'Teen Patti' and '21'. But my film has nothing to do with blackjack."

In "Teen Patti", Amitabh plays the professor who tutors five of his brightest protégées, played by Madhavan and newcomers Siddharth Kher, Druv Ganesh, Vaibhav Talwar and Shraddha Kapoor for high-stake gambling, but with a cause.

Yadav wants it as authentic as possible. Members of the cast, including the Big B, are currently brushing up their card playing skills to master the intricate game that forms the plot's core.

So is Yadav proficient at cards?

"I can play, but not too well. In our country, women play cards mainly in those idle, rich circles that form kitty parties and during Diwali as 'shagun'. We don't have professional female card players. Imagine a woman making a film on card players!"

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