For 14 years Sanjay Leela Bhansali has nursed this dream. And from the looks of it, it may come true. The stage is set for Bajirao Mastani, a film that Bhansali first spoke about in 1999 and which is best remembered for the acrimonious fallout between his chosen lead pair in 2002 – Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai.
The epic historical, based on the life of Peshwa Bajirao and his ladylove Mastani, went through several casting changes (see below), but never really made it to the finishing line. But the jinx could well wear off, now that Eros International has agreed to produce the film.
A source close to the developments told this newspaper, “After Ram Leela releases in October 2013, Bhansali will start with the pre production of Bajirao Mastani. He will begin shooting in April 2014.” Added the source, “Eros and Bhansali have had a fabulous working relationship during Ram Leela. Their collaboration on Bajirao Mastani will strengthen their association.”
Early buzz suggests Bhansali is eyeing a casting coup of sorts. He is in advanced stages of talks with Deepika Padukone and Katrina Kaif for the roles of Mastani and Bajirao’s wife Kashibai.
“Apparently, Bhansali has had a word with both Deepika and Katrina. The girls have shown tremendous interest,” says the source. While this could be Katrina’s first film with Bhansali, Deepika is looking forward to her second one with Bhansali.
It would be interesting to see how the two ladies get along on the sets, considering what they have in common. “All you need now is Ranbir Kapoor coming on board as Bajirao, and you have a Silsila all over again,” smiles our source, adding, “Bhansali is yet to finalise any actor for Bajirao’s role. Keep watching.”
Bajirao and the casting merry-go-round
» It was after Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) that Bhansali first spoke about his dream project. At the time, he had wanted Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai to portray Bajirao and Mastani. Reportedly, Rani Mukerji was to play Bajirao’s wife Kashibai in the film.
» But with Salman and Aishwarya parting ways, Bhansali wanted to replace Ash with Kareena Kapoor. But Bhansali postponed the historical, and started working on Devdas instead.
» Later, when Bhansali wanted to revive his project, Salman insisted on Katrina Kaif as Mastani instead of Kareena. He was dating Kat at the time.
» After Devdas, Bhansali announced Black with Amitabh Bachchan and Rani and Bajirao Mastani got delayed once again.
» Post Black, there was talk of Bhansali casting Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya as the lead pair. At some point, there was speculation he was even considering Salman’s bete noire, SRK, as Bajirao.
» Most recently it was rumoured Bhansali would rope in Ajay Devgn as Peshwa Bajirao.