Telugu and Tamil actress Tamannaah Bhatia will play the lead opposite Ajay in Himmatwala, to be directed by Sajid Khan.
Says Devgn's manager and producer Kumar Mangat, "Yes, Tamannaah is opposite Ajay in Himmatwala. The shooting starts in August. Ajay has Bol Bachchan on release and Son Of Sardar is almost complete. Himmatwala is the only other project he will start this year."
Actresses like Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma were considered for the role that finally went to Tamannaah.
Says a source close to the project: "Katrina and Anushka turned down the role. Then, Ajay felt a Southern actress would fit the bill. He recalled to his director Sajid Khan and producer Vashu Bhagnani how Sridevi had also emerged from Tamil-Telugu cinema for Himmatwala. Besides, Ajay has recently delivered a big hit with another Tamil-Telugu actress Kajal Aggarwal in Singham."
Apparently, Tamannaah's role in the new Himmatwala will be radically different from the original.
Says the source, "Sridevi in tight-fitting trousers and a leather jacket with a whip in hand wouldn't work now. This firebrand opposite Ajay would a wield a gun. Nainon mein sapna from the original would be there but it will be shot completely differently on Ajay and Tamannah."
There are some interesting similarities between Sridevi and Tamannaah. Both are Tamil-Telugu actresses trying to score in Bollywood. Sridevi made a failed attempt in Solva Sawan before hitting big-time with Himmatwala. Tamannaah too has a flop Hindi film Chand Sa Roshan Chehra to her discredit.
"Tamannaah has already started working on her body language for Himmatwala. Unlike Sridevi who couldn't speak Hindi when she did Himmatwala and had her voice dubbed, Tamannaah speaks fluent Hindi. She's a Sindhi gone South."
Other Southern sirens starring in Hindi movies are Ileana d'Cruz in Barfi, Taapsee Pannu in Chashme Buddoor and Samantha Ruth Prabhu in Assi Nabbe Sau.