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Ramayana on big screen

If Lord Of The Rings is successful in Hollywood, then why can't Ramayana be a success in Bollywood, asks director Raj Kumar Santoshi.

india Updated: Mar 19, 2007 11:46 IST

Even though versatile director Raj Kumar Santoshi puts together his Ajay Devgan-Priyanka Chopra project London Dreams, he is already planning to make a big screen adaptation of the epic Ramayana.

"I am doing a large-screen version of the Ramayana. It won't be just another mythological interpretation of the often-repeated tale," Santoshi said.

"My Ramayana will present the characters like never before. (Lord) Rama, so far, has been depicted as a gentle pliable soul, but heck... he was a real man who had the guts to give up his kingdom to live up to an ideology. My film will reflect the Ramayana and its hero as an ageless moral fable."

Santoshi is co-scripting it with Anjum Rajabli, who wrote some of the best works for him including the under-rated Lajja.

In fact, Lajja had a bit of the Ramayana in the scene where Madhuri Dixit playing Sita on stage was put through the agni pariksha (trial by fire) by Rama Samir Soni.

"Funny you should remember that. Yes, I feel the interpretation of the Ramayana has so far been very theatrical. I want that to change with my Ramayana. I want to look at the epic as a mirror of life."

The project, to be produced jointly by Santoshi and Que Sera Sera, will be made at an estimated budget of around Rs 1 billion.

"It will be an English-Hindi bilingual on the scale of King Kong and The Lord Of The Rings. In fact, we are roping in the people behind these two Hollywood films for our Ramayana."

Santoshi's Ramayana starts filming early next year. In the meanwhile, the hunt for the right cast is on.

"Rama is specially tricky casting," said Santoshi.

"I need an established Bollywood actor who can take India's biggest hero through various stages of his amazing life.

"But I can't have my Rama stripping for a centrespread or dancing and brawling at a disco. Every member of the cast, whether it's Rama, Sita or Ravana will be bound by a contract stipulating their conduct both off and on screen during the time when the Ramayana is filmed."

Santoshi's visionary qualities as a filmmaker have surfaced like never before.

"I have never been more challenged and enthusiastic about any project. It was my ultimate dream to make the Ramayana. Earlier I did a historical The Legend Of Bhagat Singh. But that was not too successful.

"We are going to make sure the Ramayana is the ultimate epic, on a par, if not better than, all the Hollywood spectacles that we go on and on about. Arrey yaar, if they can make a Lord Of The Rings why can't we make Ramayana? I want to prove we can do it."