'I have to shock audiences'
Ram Gopal Varma's startling plans with Akshay and Bharat Shah
Subhash K Jha
The Mumbai film industry is abuzz with rumours of Ram Gopal Varma planning a huge international film in collaboration with diamond merchant and film financier-producer Bharat Shah.
Speaking for the first time on this subject, Varma confirms, "Yes, I am doing what you can call a very big film for Bharat Shah in mid-2003. The cast and other details are yet to be finalised. But one of the actors will be Akshay Kumar, that's for sure."
Bharat Shah's Rs 500 million production of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Devdas has furnished him with a renewed respectability after being incarcerated for alleged underworld links. He seems to have regained his confidence in Bollywood. Even as Varma is busy putting together his project for Shah, Varma's production house has some startling plans for the coming year.
One curious project is a film entitled Main Bhi Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon where Antara Mali plays a wannabe Dixit. To be directed by Varma Corporation's resident editor Chandan Arora, the film will feature the Varma prot้g้ Rajpal Yadav in the lead. A rather strange choice for a leading man's role. "But I have to live up to my reputation of shocking audiences," grins the starmaker.
But the Varma project that is really intriguing is a film tentatively called Ek Andheri Raat. A four-story suspense thriller on the lines of Steven Spielberg's Twilight Zone: The Movie, Varma's film will star almost all his discoveries and protegees --- Manoj Bajpai, Urmila Matondkar, Aftab Shivdasani and Fardeen Khan.
"That's right, my entire jingbang," laughs Varma. "And it will be directed by my chief assistant director Prabal Pandey. It will be interconnected. It will be close to a Hindi suspense film like Gumnaam. Unlike my Bhoot, which is a horror film, Prabals film will be a suspense thriller."