Dec 4, 2008

Entertainment - Tabu to play Amitabh's love interest again

MUMBAI: After doing "Cheeni Kum", a contemporary take on relationships, Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu are teaming up again for period film "The Legend Of Kunal".

The film, to be directed by Chandraprakash Dwivedi and produced by Amitabh's company AB Corp Ltd, has the Big B playing emperor Ashoka and Tabu his wife Tishyarakshitra.

This would be the first film Tabu is signing after R. Balki's "Cheeni Kum" last year.

"Tabu had not a moment's hesitation in saying yes to the role of emperor Ashoka's powerful wife Tishyarakshitra, so powerful she swayed the entire Mauryan empire with her politics and aura. We needed an actress with the strength of conviction," Dwivedi, who has earlier made period film "Pinjar", said.

"History and its cinematic treatment demand the characters to be true to their antecedents. And emperor Ashoka, who is caught in his twilight years in my film, had to be played by Bachchan saab. Only he possesses the gravity, sobriety and personality along with being the age required.

"I wouldn't make Ashoka without him. As for Tabu, she plays his young, fiery, assertive wife. She's an actress I've wanted to work with for a very long time. Again, only she could play Tishyarakshitra," Diwedi said.

In addition, the film will star Arjun Rampal as emperor Ashoka's son Kunal. Amrita Rao will play his wife Kanchanmala.

"Again, I cast them because of their suitability rather than saleability," Dwivedi said.

"In fact, Amrita was recommended by Jaya Bachchan. Tabu and Amrita have many dramatic confrontation scenes together. I needed an actress who could hold her own against someone as powerful as Tabu. Amrita is delicate but strong," he added.

The director, who became a name to reckon with after directing the television epic "Chankaya", is determined not to make compromises with history or with his creativity in making "The Legend Of Kunal".

"It's a big responsibility, not only to history but also to Bachchan saab, who has never in his long and distinguished career played a historical character. Isn't that ironical? It's also a responsibility because after 'Cheeni Kum', audiences would want to see what has been done with the very unusual and striking pair of Bachchan saab and Tabu. I can't afford to slip up."

Dwivedi has just wrapped up the very complicated process of writing the "Upanishad" for the small screen, which his wife, the very talented Mandira will direct.

"I'm now devoting all my time to 'The Legend Of Kunal'. I'll be accompanying Bachchan saab to Bodh Gaya in Bihar, the birthplace of the Buddha, for a visit. My film deals with those years when the warrior Ashoka reforms into a saint. I need to get both Bachchan saab and myself into the mood."

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