In 1996 director Sudhir Mishra had written a story about two friends and a women who re-enters their life when they’re in their 60s. Mehrunnisa starts in 45 and spans four decades — almost a lifetime. Before he could complete the screenplay, Sudhir got busy with other films. Fifteen years later, his former assistant, Nikhil Advani will produce the film to ensure that the story that is a bit of an epic with a lot of heart, is mounted lavishly.
Sudhir reworked the script and the duo took it to Rishi Kapoor who immediately gave the nod. “He’s like a child who’s been given a wonderful toy. He’s called to enquire about the music and suggested we get a writer on board to ensure that he speaks the Lucknavi language right,” says Nikhil.
They’ve also had a couple of narrations and are hoping for a Yes when they have the final meeting with Amitabh Bachchan, who would play the other friend. However, contrary to rumours, Ranbir and Abhishek have not been approached to play their fathers in their younger avatars. “It would have been easy getting their sons on board, but the two veterans are good enough to convincingly look young even when they are older and the frame unfreezes,” reasons Sudhir, saying that the film begins with a grandchild narrating the story of his grandfather and his best friend-turned-enemy and the unforgettable woman in their lives.
Chitrangada Singh has also hopped on board in the title role and now the producer and his guru will scout the country through contests, polls and auditions, to find a young boy and girl for two other significant roles. Says Nikhil, “Once we have them, the film we’re both so excited about should roll in six months.”