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Mahabharat, reloaded!

Mahabharat will soon make its third entry on the small screen under Siddharth Tewary’s Swastik Pictures.

tv Updated: Apr 21, 2010 01:24 IST
Rachana Dubey

Mahabharat will soon make its third entry on the small screen under Siddharth Tewary’s Swastik Pictures. The producer of one of the top-rated shows, Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo on Zee TV admits that he has started work on the show, but he doesn’t know when it would go on air.

“It’s for Star Plus. It will take us at least six months to complete all the groundwork, finalise locations and figure the cast out. The show will take at least seven to eight months to go on air. My team is currently researching on the various aspects of the epic,” says Tewary. The show is expected to depict the producer’s vision of the epic that has earlier been made by BR Chopra in the 1980 - 90s and more recently in 2008 by Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms.

Doesn’t the latter’s failure and the former’s massive success pressurise Tewary? “I love the challenge and that by itself is reason enough to take on an epic like that. My company is just two-and-a-half years old. We have never attempted something like this. I just wish we put our best foot forward,” he asserts.

Past tense
A year or two ago, it was rumoured that producer Bobby Bedi’s Kaleidoscope Entertainment was producing the show with big names. Tewary refused to comment on the past issues regarding the show. However, a source from Swastik Pictures says, that the company is starting afresh and plans to cast differently from what was done in the past.

“Bobby Bedi’s company had shot about 50 episodes and had done a lot of work on it because his series required animation to meet reality. Bu it didn’t work out between the channel and him,” adds the source. The channel and Bobby Bedi were not available for comments despite our attempts.

Mahabharat on Mahabharat
* Producer Bobby Bedi was expected to make Mahabharat for Star Plus under his production company Kaleidoscope Entertainment. It was a part of his 360-degree approach to the epic that involved three films, two stage plays, comic books, animation content and gaming.
* Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi was supposedly directing it. Bedi had even planned to rope in a popular animation company from the US because he planned to converge animation with the epic.
* Every episode, a thousand of which were supposed to be produced, were supposed to an hour long.
* Bedi was reportedly paid Rs 6 crore to create the sets and start production on a huge plot of land between Delhi and Noida, at a place called Morna. A year’s work went into it.
* Then, it’s said that his company came up with 50 episodes, which didn’t appeal to the channel, and it had apparently asked the producer to rework the episodes and bring them back.
* Bedi, on the other hand, reportedly started selling the episodes in CDs and DVDs in the local Delhi markets. One of those caught the attention of the channel personnel and matters became worse.
* Bedi, it’s said, was was asked to return the investment, and the production was also stopped.
* It is learnt that Star Television Entertainment filed an arbitration petition in the Bombay High Court against Kaleidoscope Entertainment, alleging that the firm took an advance of Rs 6 crore to produce a TV programme based on the epic but hasn’t produced a single episode yet.
* Rumours of the show being stalled also made the rounds, reasons for which were the economic slowdown and absence of funds for production.
* The shoot was expected to re-start in February 2009. Sources from Swastik Pictures say that towards the mid of 2009, the production company was approached to produce the show and start it afresh.
* Bobby Bedi’s version reportedly had Nirmal Pandey as Bheeshma, Gagan Malik as Krishna and Lillete Dubey’s sister Lushin Dubey as Kunti among several new faces.
* Then, Ekta Kapoor’s Kahani Hamaaray Mahabharat Kii went on air on July 7, 2008, on 9X and shut within a few months.

Pitaah has found its place’ says, Siddharth Tewary

My show Maan Rahe Tere… Pitaah has found its slot on Sony. It starts on April 26, at 8.30 pm. I am really nervous and anxious to know what people think of it because for me this show is like coming back home. I was working with Sony before I became a producer of sorts. I made my first show for them, called Amber Dhara.

Lot of people have asked me why I have gone into this village mode after Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo on Zee TV. My show is based in a small town and is about the father-daughter relationship with coalmines as the backdrop.

‘Agle Janam has become a benchmark’, says Siddharth Tewary

While making Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo, I didn’t know that it would become such a hit. It was the first time I was venturing into poverty and hunger-stricken lives. Thankfully, we have managed to stick to the storyline and get the TRPs going. Ratan (Rajput) was a discovery for us.