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Power of 3

Percept’s three-film deal with Priyadarshan is readying for take-off. Shailendra Singh pilots us through plot details and casting choices

entertainment Updated: Apr 25, 2010 13:53 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

PriyandarshanAamir for AIDS movie?

Percept Picture Company has inked a three-film deal with director Priyadarshan that should flag off with a meaningful comedy that delivers a strong social message. “We haven’t decided on a title yet. AIDS is just the project name that we will be going into production with,” says Shailendra Singh, joint managing director, PPC. Priyadarshan has confirmed that he has been in talks with Aamir Khan to head the ensemble cast.

“We’re waiting to send him the final draft. Only then will we know if it’s a “yes” or a “no” from him,” says Singh. Buzz is that South superstar Mohanlal too will be roped in for the film, along with Priyadarshan’s usual team that includes the likes of Paresh Rawal. “We’re looking to cast nine powerful actors,” informs Singh, adding that AIDS is only the platform of discussion. The film actually is a celebration of the life that we usually take for granted. “You will leave the theatre celebrating the fact that you are still alive,” insists Singh.

The second project that should flag off, earliest by February 2011, is Malamaal Bank. The sequel to the superhit Malamaal Weekly has been scripted. The delayed start, Singh admits, is because it was a task convincing Priyadarshan to direct Part 2. “He has never agreed to a sequel before. I had to point out to him the significance of IPR that Hollywood has understood only too well and thereby succceded in building huge franchises like Superman and Spiderman. Eventually I managed to appeal to the sharp businessman in him,” says Singh.

The plan is to go with the same cast though buzz is that the lead actress, Reema Sen, could be replaced with a more saleable name. However, Om Puri, Paresh Rawal and most of the other character actors will continue. Rumour is that another reason for the time lapse is Riteish Deshmukh’s demand for more money. In the last couple of years, star prices have escallated beyond reach.

However, following the economic slowdown, there has been a correction of sorts and Ritesh could eventually be made to sign on the dotted line at a more reasonable price. Singh refuses to contemplate making the film without him. “He’s a dear friend and if I have to, I’ll wave the emotional card in front of him and get him to agree to Malamaal Bank which will be another laugh riot,” he promises, hoping that it will have him laughing to the bank too.

Showtime

If gossip mills are to be believed, the Bachchans, Amitabh and Jaya, caught a show of Kanchivaram on Friday at Bandra’s Pixion theatre. Bachchan has been wanting to watch the National Award winning Best Film for the longest time. He finally saw it at a private screening.

On the tiger trail

The third film in this tie-up is the creature horror film Grrr that after three years of pre-production, is finally ready to get going. Both Singh and Priyadarshan are keen on having Amitabh Bachchan play the main protagonist. The duo has sketched out the story idea to Bachchan and he’s liked it. Having never worked with Priyadarshan before, he’s excited about this too.

“But we have to flesh out the script first, work in certain details, and then get back to him when he is free. Only then can we expect a definite answer from Mr Bachchan. He needs to understand it in depth before he can make uphis mind on the subject,” says Singh.The film had almost been shelved because it was found to be economically unviable.

“Animetrics costs the earth but now art director Sabu Cyril who understabds these things far better, has managed to find ways to cut production costs. Also, with star prices substantially reduced, Grrr that is now cost effective, and finally ready to roll,” Singh exults. If Bachchan gives the nod, he could head an ensemble cast. Priyadarshan is also keen on Akshaye Khanna with whom he crafted superhits like Hulchul and Hungama.

“He’s spoken with Akshaye, let’s see,” says Singh optimistically.With Bachchan lending his voice to the Save The Tiger campign you wonder whether PPC will tie up with Aircel that conceived the immensely successful campaign. “Given the twists and turns in the plot, that’s a tricky question to answer. But since the film ends with protecting the interests of both tigers and humans, we are optimistic of a partnership,” he says.

The film will probably be shot in Thailand, may be at Priyadarshan’s studio in Singapore though that would depend on the director entirely. One thing Singh is sure of is that there will be no live action shooting in India.