Sunday, March 13, 2011

Anushka in Mani's next!

Anushka in Mani's next!

Sreedhar Pillai,TNN,Mar 12, 2011, 12.00am IST

The wheel has come a full circle. India's best-known director Mani Ratnam is back to his roots, doing pre-production and casting work for his new period film in Tamil, Ponniyin Selvan. And, the big breaking news is that Anushka, currently south India's number one heroine, has signed up to play the all-important female lead in the film!

A source close to Anushka confirmed the news and said, "Yes, Sweety (as she is known) has signed Mani sir's epic classic and is thrilled to do it. She has allotted bulk dates for the project. She has to complete two Telugu projects in the next four to five months, and then join Ponniyin Selvan, where she will sport an all-new look."

The ace director wanted big Tamil superstars to do the three important male lead roles in the film.

Initially, there was talk that Vikram, Vijay and Suriya would do the project, but that fell through. A source close to the development said, "Even Mani sir found it difficult to bring them together for a joint narration to hear the script, leave alone doing a full-fledged film! As of now, Vijay, Arya and Telugu superstar Mahesh Babu have agreed to do the film." The grapevine has it that while Vijay will play the courageous warrior Vallavarayan Vandiyatheyan, Mahesh Babu is likely to play King Aditha Karikalan. The role of Arulmozhi Varman (who later becomes Raja Raja Chozha), which was initially slated to be done by Vikram, will now be played by Arya.

Mani sir, as he is affectionately called, is at last, back to doing what he does best — making Tamil movies inspired by real-life events and famous epics. His dream project, Ponniyin Selvan, which is based on the most popular novel of modern Tamil literature penned by celebrated writer Kalki Krishnamurthy, is a fictionalised account of the life of Chola King Raja Raja 1.

It is almost nine years since the filmmaker did a pure Tamil film. The last few years, he has been trying to enter Bollywood by doing films like Yuva, Guru and Raavan, which failed to evoke the kind of critical acclaim or box-office success that his earlier Tamil films like Nayagan, Roja and Bombay enjoyed.

Mani Ratnam, we understand, is writing the script in association with noted writer Jayamohan. There have also been reports that Kamal Haasan, who tried many years ago to make Ponniyin Selvan, recommended some writers to Mani to improve the script. The Ponniyin Selvan team will include Mani's favourites like A R Rahman, Santosh Sivan, Sabu Cyril and Sreekar Prasad.

CT understands that Mani Ratnam's production house will produce the film at the moment. Other production houses are likely to step in at a later date. The film's shoot will commence in October, after the director completes pre-production work. Ponniyin Selvan is expected to be a big-budget (` 75 to 100 crore) project and will be made in Tamil and Telugu.

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