Finally we have the answer to that question, and it is that Basanti is not called Basanti, but Ghungroo and the role, immortalised by Hema Malini, shall be attempted by Nisha Kothari. The casting of Ram Gopal Varma Ke Sholay, presented by Adlabs Entertainment, is just getting more and more curious.
Currently on the floors, his adaptation of Sholay is likely to be as unique as similar to the original by Ramesh Sippy. Among the female cast of Varma’s film is also Sushmita Sen who plays Jaya Bachchan’s role. Unlike Radha, who wore
white in the 1975 blockbuster, Sen’s character, called Devi, is always in black attire.
Also, Basanti’s horsecart has been replaced by Ghungroo’s auto-rickshaw called Laila, a far cry Dhanno the mare. But Ghungroo also treats Laila like a friend and solves many a dilemma by confiding in her. If that’s not enough, Devi and Ghungroo are the best of friends.
“Ghungroo happens to stay close to the house of Inspector Ranveer Singh, so it’s but natural that her acquaintance with Devi develops into a close friendship,” says Varma.
Dismissing the notion of Devi being dressed in black being a sharp contrast to Radha’s white, Varma says, “This film is set in a different era and milieu and it’s unlikely that a widow today would dress as one 30 years ago did. After the gangster Gabbar Singh massacred her family, including her husband, she has gradually become strong-minded.”
The modern Devi is a trained nurse, who runs a small clinic. While she understands Ranveer’s need for vengeance on the gangster, she feels he is impractical in expecting others, especially two seemingly good-for-nothing nobodies like Jai and Veeru, to take his war as their own.
Revealing a bit about the Jai-Devi track, Varma says, “Jai is drawn to Devi’s stoic dignity and silent strength, and her focus on things makes him see purpose. He is awed by her larger than life perspective towards life and her ability to see the positive side in the most negative things.”
Devi’s best friend Ghungroo would like you to believe she’s a man. Mumbai’s only woman auto driver, she knows all the short cuts in the city and easily switches between Marathi, Hindi and English.
Tell Varma that we believed ‘Basanti’ would be a taxi driver and he says, “I chose an auto-rickshaw because it is treated like a human and easier to maneuver in traffic than a taxi. Ghungroo stays with her mother, an aggressive hard-nosed fisherwoman, locally called Gangu Maami, and her father, who was a rickshaw driver till he lost his leg in an accident.”
One of the interesting aspects will be the interiors of Ghungroo’s ride which she adorns with hangings, a perfume dispenser, animal print upholstery, multi-speaker music system and disco lights a large sticker with the image of Goddess Durga is stuck on the rear window. Ask him what attracts Veeru to her and he replies, “The fact that they’re similar.” Though the court case against his film is pending, Varma seems undeterred and marching firmly along with his film.