Be it the subject of his film or the star cast, filmmaker Srijit Mukherji never fails to surprise his fans. If a powerful all-women cast was one of the highpoints of his last release, Rajkahini, here is something bigger that Srijit promises in his next. The National Award-winning filmmaker has decided to adapt not one but two of William Shakespeare’s tragedies --Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra--and weave them into one film called Zulfikar.
What more? The filmmaker has also pulled off a casting coup of shorts by roping in some of the biggest Tollywood stars that boasts names such as Prosenjit Chatterjee and Dev. Interestingly, this is the first time the two stars will be seen sharing screen space. Though Prosenjit and Dev were to come together in Kamaleshwar Mukherjee’s Mahabharata, the project is yet to take off. The other big names include Jisshu Sengupta, Parambrata Chatterjee, Ankush, Kaushik Sen, Rudranil Ghosh and Kanchan Mullick. The ensemble female cast too boasts of big names such as Paoli Dam, Nusrat Jahan, June Maliah and Kyra Dutt, the Kolkata-based model who was recently seen in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Calendar Girls.
The filmmaker, who will start shooting for the film from December 8, says, “It’s the first ever double adaptation of Shakespeare on big screen. Two plays come together in a single plot. The story is set against the backdrop of shipping mafia,” says Srijit.
Ask who will play Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, and the Jaatiswar filmmaker says, “I don’t want to reveal that now.”
It isn’t unknown that the Bard is a favourite with Bollywood directors, primarily Vishal Bharadwaj, who adapted Shakespeare’s works thrice on screen. Srijit too wanted to adapt Julius Caesar on the big screen for the longest time. “Julius Caesar is close to my heart because it was the first Shakespearean text I read in school. A portion of Julius Caesar was also there in my debut film Autograph,” he says.
Though Prosenjit, Jisshu and Parambrata have worked with the director earlier in films such as Jaatiswar and Hemlock Society, it does come as a surprise with Srijit roping in Dev and Ankush, who are known more for doing potboilers. It seems the genre -- parallel or mainstream -- doesn’t count much for Srijit. “The difference between art house and mainstream cinema has become blurred with time. When I do the casting, all I look for is if the actor will be able to justify the character. I believe all the actors fit their parts in Zulfikar,” he says.
Watch the trailer of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider here:
Anupam Roy, who began his musical journey in films with Srijit’s debut film, Autograph, and later worked with him in the National Award-winning film Chatushkone, is composing the music for Zulfikar. The film is produced by Shree Venkatesh Films.
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