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Amitabh will play Emperor Ashoka

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Amitabh Bachchan
A multi-crore tie-up with the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group, will have Amitabh Bachchan's AB Corp launch several projects. Among them will be a film directed by Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi based on the relationship between Emperor Ashoka and his son Kunal. The buzz is that Bachchan will play Ashoka and his wife Jaya will essay the role of Queen Padmavati.

Says Bachchan, "AB Corp is making a film based on the relationship between Emperor Ashoka and his son Kunal. I am still considering the project which will be directed by Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi." Dwivedi who has written and script as well as the screenplay for the untitled film, says, "The story is a legend based on a collection of Buddhist texts called the Avadanas which deals with the purification of the soul and mind.

The section Divya Avadan which has the Asoka Avadana has the Kunal Avadana, a collection which was composed in Sri Lanka during the time Ashoka's daughter Sanghamitra took a branch of the bodhi tree from Gaya to Ceylon. A branch from that tree was brought to India and planted in Sarnath. The writer of the manuscript is not known though it's been edited by many authors since then. The original script is in France."

Dwivedi chanced upon the story when he was working on his TV series Chanakya. "The story fascinated me as it dwelt on the strange yet loving relationship between father and son. Kunal was born a year before the Kalinga war. There is no detailed account of what actually happened.

Herein comes my stretch of imagination of what might have happened along with history. My film will be historically accurate as I have researched the subject for more than 10 years. The film deals with Ashoka in his last years. Earlier films on him have dealt with Ashoka when he was much younger; my Ashoka is a 64-year-old Ashoka. When I conceived the film, I thought only of Mr Bachchan. I had wanted to do it then but Prakash Mehra had wanted to do a TV series in 1998 so I backed out."

Dwivedi has also approached Jaya Bachchan to play Queen Padmavati. "I have spoken to Jayaji. It would be too predictable to take Abhishek as the son and currently, we are figuring out Mr Bachchan's dates. Jayaji is very busy. She would oblige us if she does it but it would be a creative challenge for Mr Bachchan." The film will be shot in India, Afghanistan where ancient Gandhar and Takshila existed along with ancient Pataliputra which existed in Bihar.

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