© Provided by Khaleej Times Epic Indian movie will be shot in UAE
In an unexpected move, producer of the much-awaited Indian movie Mahabharata on Sunday announced that the $150 million (Dh550m) film will be shot in the UAE Capital.
The film, considered the costliest non-English language Indian film, is based on the critically-acclaimed Malayalam novel Randamoozham by famous writer MT Vasudevan Nair.
The film is the reinterpretation of Indian epic Mahabharata from the perspective of Bhima, the protagonist of the book. The film in three main languages – Malayalam, English and Hindi – will be dubbed in all Indian languages.
On the sidelines of the first official press conference called to announce the details of the epic film, Abu Dhabi-based industrialist Dr BR Shetty, the producer of the film, told Khaleej Times: “The film will be launched here on August 1 and the shooting will start next year. I wanted to start the shoot of the film nowhere else but here. This is the place I have made my money from and I am happy to give it back to this land.”
Addressing the media, director VA Shrikumar Menon said that the locations have not been finalised yet. A 50-member team will soon arrive in Abu Dhabi to identify the sites.
“I will get my production designer, cameraman and decide (on locations). We have intelligent usage of visual effects. We are in the process of sorting this out and will decide on how to do it,” Menon said.
“The film will have a lot of visual effects,” the first-time director who is also an ad filmmaker, said.
The desert locations are set to be transformed into forest and grand settings will be in place to shoot portions of the film. The producer-director duo will visit Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this week to brief him about the project.
Two titles to end row
The director and the producer, in their efforts to put an end to controversies over the movie title, on Sunday said the costliest Indian movie will have two titles – one for the global audience and the other for the people of Kerala.
A prominent leader of a Kerala-based Hindu right-wing group had threatened to stop the release of the movie in Kerala, if it was to be titled Mahabharata.
“If it is titled after the epic Mahabharata, it will not reach the theatres,” Hindu Aikya Vedi chairperson KP Sasikala had recently said in Kerala.
The director said the idea was to have the name of the film as Randamoozham for Kerala circle.
“There is no basis for the protest. Everyone knows MT Vasudevan Nair’s work in Kerala. This is the first announcement we are making about the title. We are not doing it under any pressure and there is no political agenda. We will name it as Mahabharata based on MT Vasudevan Nair’s Randamoozham for other languages,” Menon said.
The director, however, remained tight-lipped on the actors in the cast, apart from Mohanlal (Bhima) and Akkineni Nagarjuna (Karna).
“We are just working on the cast and crew of the film. We will announce the cast within 100 days. We should finish pre-production by June-July 2018.”
Menon has shot campaigns with top names from the north and south – Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Daggubati Venkatesh, Prabhu, Vikram, Puneeth Rajkumar, Mammootty, Shiva Rajkumar, Dileep, Uttam Mohanty, Mithun Chakraborthy, Sachin Khedekar, Manju Warrier, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor and Sushmita Sen among others.
“We can expect all those legendary names in this film also. My acquaintance with them is an advantage.”
Shetty said the film is his way of supporting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make in India campaign. “I am glad to follow in his footsteps.”