Baz Luhrmann: Working With Indian Stars Has Always Excited Me

Baz Luhrmann

Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann finds a reflection of Shakespeare’s plays in Bollywood films and was so impressed with Indian stars and Hindi movies that he used the song “Chamma, Chamma” in his musical “Moulin Rouge”. Now the Oscar-nominated director is keen to work on a film in India and collaborate with music maestro A.R. Rahman.

“There are a number of classic stars here and there are a few new Indian actors as well who are doing things differently. The idea of working with Indian actors has always excited me and if it works out I definitely will. I am keeping my fingers crossed,” Luhrmann told IANS in an interview.

This is Luhrmann’s fourth trip to India. So did he gather from the trip any fodder for his next project? “I wouldn’t say fodder, but every time I come here it has had a direct effect on my life and my work. There are many things I am working on. I have many pieces that could be played in India,” he said.


uhrmann’s films “Strictly Ballroom”, “Romeo + Juliet”, “Moulin Rouge” and “Australia” had a profound presence of “love and spirit”. Not many know that the influence has an Indian connect.

“I can’t escape my spirit and love – the truth of relationships and the depth, meaning and power of them. Without that I can’t be creative. When I don’t have one of that, I am nothing.

“When I came here 15 years ago that changed me and every single time I come here, I’ve had the same experience. It’s always the same and very spiritual. At the same time all the other experience I have gathered here whether it is Satyajit Ray or anything, at the heart of it is love. The (Indian) connection is always with me. My relationship with India is continuing,” he added.

Luhrmann has been hugely influenced by Bollywood and picked up many things while researching for his opera production “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” here in 1993. Eventually he also set the opera in India.

His 2001 musical “Moulin Rouge” saw actress Nicole Kidman grooving to popular Bollywood number “Chamma chamma” from “China Gate”.

“Indian musicals have inspired me since the first time I’ve been here. I had that cathartic experience 15 years ago when I was here working on Shakespeare and watching a Bollywood movie and it felt the same (like Shakespeare’s plays).

“(In Bollywood films) There’s tragedy, then comedy and next is music which is just like Shakespeare’s works. It reached me as an idea of the old form that was alive in Bollywood and that we brought to ground in ‘Romeo + Juliet’ and ‘Moulin Rouge’.”

The 47-year-old was here with Australian portrait painter Vincent Fantauzzo, as part of a Le Sutra and Royal Enfield initiative.

Asked how his overall trip to the country was, he said: “You cannot put it in a nutshell. If you could, it wouldn’t be India. And the best thing about being in India is not having plans. But I’ll be honest, in the first couple of days it is a bit hot, but then I always find myself secured a lot.”