It looks like the 'media mischief' between talented Bengali director Rituparno Ghosh and John Abraham is over and the two have joined forces for Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam.
Ghosh claims he was misquoted on John being a misfit to play Bhootnath in Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, a remake of Guru Dutt's masterpiece of the same name.
"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 version of Mahabharata where Bipasha will be playing Draupadi. He has the right personality for my version of the epic," Ghosh told IANS.
Ghosh admits that initially he had reservations about John as Bhootnath.
<b1>"I did have reservations about John as Bhootnath. But if you remember, I also had reservations about Kirron 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," he added.
Describing his epic film, which is titled Draupadi, he said that it was a mixture of BR Chopra's Mahabharata and Peter Brooks' take on the Hindu epic.
"Draupadi has a huge canvas. We can't possibly show her whole life. It's the Mahabharata through the eyes of Draupadi. It would be very intimate, feminist and minimalist take on the Mahabharata."
"I think BR Chopra did a great job of familiarising the nation with the Mahabharata. Now everyone knows who's who in the epic, so my job is made easier."
"Bipasha was chosen primarily because of her skin complexion. Colour politics is very important in the Mahabharata. Three of the characters Krishna, Vyas and Draupadi have to be really dark... Bipasha 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 80 million.
"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."
Regional actors will be roped in to play the Pandavas.
"That would make mine a pan-Indian film. But for Dhritarashtra and Kunti I want Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi. Shabana has already agreed. All the Pandavas have to be tall and rugged."
So, it would be two peroid films for Ghosh this year. Wouldn't it get stressful for him?
"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."
"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."
Ghosh, whose last Hindi film was Raincoat, says that he is looking forward to making another Hindi film specially after seeing Rang De Basanti.
"What a film! After Aks, I didn't have much faith in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra but Rang De Basanti is so wonderful, so well acted, so fresh in thought and execution. Some major films about youth had no sense of purpose.Rang De Basanti had a cause."