He says he wanted to shoot it in a real prison.
"But there were too many practical problems. It'll be in the thriller format. I've been mulling the subject right from the time I made Chandni Bar. Now I've completely revamped the film," Bhandarkar told IANS.
Bhandarkar liked Neil's work in Johnny Gaddar and thus chose him to play the lead.
"I saw his work in Johnny Gaddar and I knew he was perfect. I don't think a prison story like Jail has been done so far in Hindi. I always want to go into genres that are new for me and for the audience."
The film will be a two-hour taut thriller produced jointly by Bhandarkar and Percept Pictures.
"I'll now make all my films in collaboration with another company. Percept has been with me through my last few films barring Fashion, which I co-produce with UTV."
The acclaimed director says he was taken aback by the National Award for Traffic Signal. Incidentally, he was caught in traffic in the pouring rain when news of award reached him.
"Since the National Awards are running a year late, I wasn't even aware that Traffic Signal was up for consideration. I was stuck in the torrential rains when a news channel from Delhi called to inform me. I thought it was a joke. Later the phone started ringing.
"The film was very difficult to make. There were 60 characters. And half of them were non-actors, straight from the streets. And we did no workshops."
Though Bhandarkar has won National awards for both Chandni Bar and Page 3, this is his first National award for best director. For the first time, two films of the same director were competing against each other.
"My Traffic Signal and Corporate were in the race together. Both are my babies and equally important. I felt very sad when Chandni Bar and Page 3 didn't get enough popular awards. But I've no complaints. Without a godfather I've created a niche for myself. I've acquired a branding today. And I'm proud of my achievement."
Fashion budgeted at Rs.200 million is Bhandarkar's most glamorous and expensive film to date.
"Traffic Signal was made on a cost of Rs.40 million. Chandni Bar was made for Rs.15 million. Fashion is a big financial leap. Because of the kind of opulence that the film has, we needed a big star. Priyanka Chopra is a glamorous star and the film couldn't have been made without her."
For his past films, the director has been turned down by Karisma Kapoor (Satta), Kareena Kapoor (Page 3) and Aishwarya Rai (Corporate).
"It's taken me a long time to get here," Bhandarkar said.