By: Subhash K. Jha, IndiaFM
Thursday, September 07, 2006
It looks like the 'media mischief' between Bengal's prized celluloid creator Rituparno Ghosh and John Abraham are over. Claiming he was misquoted on John being a misfit to play Bhootnath in Pritish Nandy Communications Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Ritu says he's now at peace with the idea.
"I never said I was unhappy with John as an actor. We sorted out the differences. Not just Bhootnath. I also want John to play Arjun in my Mahabharat where bipasha basu will be Draupadi. He has the right personality for my version of the epic. Initially I did have reservations about John as Bhootnath. But if you remember, I also had reservations about Kiran Kher in Bariwali. Finally she was fine. Once I came to terms with John as Bhootnath, I've decided to re-write the character to suit his persona."
Ritu describes his Draupadi as a mixture of B.R. Chopra's Mahabharat and Peter Brooks' take on the Hindu epic. "Draupadi has a huge canvas We can't possibly show her whole life. It's the Mahabharat seen from Draupadi's point of view. It would be very intimate, womanist and minimalist...I think B.R. Chopra did a great job of familiarizing the nation with the Mahabharat. Now everyone know who's who in the epic, so my job is made easier."
Ritu's Draupadi would be a mixture of Mallika Sarabhai in Peter Brooks' Mahabharat and Roopa Ganguly in B.R. Chopra's take on the epic. "bipasha basu was chosen primarily because of her skin complexion. Color politics is very important in the Mahabharat. Three of the characters Krishna, Vyas and Draupadi have to be really dark.... bipasha basu is a very contemporary actress. But to me getting the look right is half the battle. She has the sensuality, enigma and the beauty. When I worked in Chokher Bali with Aishwarya Rai everyone said she was plastic. But see what she did."
The film will be made at an estimated budget of Rs 8 crores. "That isn't too much money. I don't see my Draupadi as a lavish flamboyant kitschy epic. But the whole film will be shot outdoors in Ladakh. My story starts after the great epic war."
Ritu wants regional actors to play the Pandavas. "That would make mine a pan-Indian film. But for Dhritirashtra and Kunti I want Naseer and Shabana. Shabana has already agreed. All the Pandavas have to be tall and rugged."
Ritu has lined up two period epics. "But making Draupadi and then going into Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam would be no stress for me. Yes they're much bigger films than my two new films Khela and Sunglass. But making epics aren't a daunting task. No matter what the size of a film, its making will fill you with the nervous excitement of trying out the unknown. But yes, making Sahib Bibi.... Will be easier than Draupadi. I know the milieu.