A UAE-based Indian businessman is investing Rs 1,000 crore (USD 150 million) to produce India’s biggest ever motion picture, The Mahabharata. This magnum opus is being directed by noted ad man and advertising filmmaker V A Shrikumar Menon.
It will be produced in two parts and is scheduled to go on the floors by September 2018 for a release in early 2020. The second part will be released within 90 days of the first.
“The film will be shot primarily in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu and will be dubbed into major Indian languages and leading foreign languages,” a release from a company owned by serial entrepreneur and B R RPT B R Shetty, who is backing the film, said.
The film will be a coming together of the crème de la crème of Indian and global cinema in terms of cast and crew. The technical crew would include some of the great names in world cinema, including some Academy Award winners. The cast would have the best of talents from Indian cinema, as well as some big names from Hollywood.
“This film will have an identity across continents, with their representatives donning the myriad characters in The Mahabharata! A global team led by an internationally renowned casting director will handpick the cast,” the release said.
It said Shetty has been a keen supporter of Indian arts and culture for over many decades. It remains almost impossible to narrate The Mahabharata on the big screen except by adaptation of M T Vasudevan Nair’s Jnanpeeth Award winning novel Randamoozham (The Second Turn), which narrates the epic through the eyes of Bhima, the second of the Pandavas.
“The screenplay is written by the writer himself, who holds a record of maximum national awards for screen writing in the history of Indian cinema,” the release said.
This ancient Sanskrit epic has been a topic of creative adaptation in various formats for many decades.There have also been efforts to render it, but successes have been limited to the stage or serialisation for television audiences. Hence, this project would be the first of its kind to take the epic which has engaged generations of audiences on the silver screen at such a grand level, the release said.
Shetty, Founder and Chairman of UAE Exchange and NMC Healthcare,said the movie would be a true Make in India made for the world and he believed it would not only set global benchmarks, but also reposition India and its prowess in mythological storytelling.
“I am confident that this film will be adapted in over 100 languages and reach over three billion people across the world,” he was quoted as saying in the release.
Commenting on the initiative, Padma Bhushan awardee and noted Malayalam writer M T Vasudevan Nair, recipient of almost every literary award in India, including Jnanpith Award and many abroad, said he was extremely happy with Shetty’s belief in the story’s potential and his passion and commitment to take it to global audiences.
Shrikumar Menon, Director, who has been living the script and researching for this project for the past few years, said “We are fully geared to attain the next level of production quality and visual magic, as well as narrative wizardry with this initiative.”