Mahabharat in Bollywood

Mumbai: Mythology has never had it so good. Two of the country’s pre-eminent filmmakers from two corners of the country are all set to do their own take on the Hindu epic Mahabharat.

Mani Ratnam has started spadework on his version of the epic, which Bobby Bedi will produce. And Rituparno Ghosh has already started scripting his version of the Mahabharat, which will be produced by RPG, the film production sector of Sa Re Ga Ma and HMV.

Ritu, who has just completed a new Bengali film Doshar, is quick to clarify: “Please, everyone is making Mahab-harat. My film is not about the entire Mahabharat. It will, not clash with Mani’s plans at all. Mine is a ‘womanist’ view of the Mahabharat. It will focus almost entirely on the female characters, particularly Draupadi who I think is one of the most fascinating women in our mythical culture.”

Ritu’s epic will start shooting in mid-2006.

“Ideally I’d have wanted it to be only in English. For Hindi audiences, the image of BR Chopra’s telethon Mahabharat is indelible. However, my producers want Draupadi to be a bilingual. So be it.”

Other pitched battle of equals this year... are Ram Gopal Varma’s Sholay versus Farhan Akhtar’s Don, Ashutosh Gow-ariker’s Jodha-Akbar versus Chandrap-rakash Dwiwedi’s Prithviraj-Sanjukta, Rakesh Roshan’s Krissh versus Yash Raj Films’ Dhoom 2, Pritish Nandy’s Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam versus Vishal Bhard-awaj’s Othello, Nikhil Advani’s Salaam-e-Ishq versus Kunal Kohli’s Fanaah.