Ayodhya is the flavour of the season and Ram is the hero. Well, that is also the story of Bollywood. While Lord Rama may have never imagined a situation where arrows were shot from his shoulder, Bollywood filmmakers have found the reason and the season to celebrate.
Producer Pahlaj Nihalani who has made blockbusters like Andaz, Aankhen and Shola Aur Shabnam among others has now announced a film on the Ramayana called Ayodhya Ki Katha. Nihalani who has been planning this film since January has finally made the announcement with a poster release after the bhoomi pujan. “Yes, I had planned the film on the Ramayana in January itself and I was surprised to see how the younger generation also seemed to love the stories of the Ramayana and the epics when those stories were telecast during lockdown on Doordarshan. I have the director and the cast in place for the project and will be making the announcements in time keeping in mind the marketing needs of today,” says the veteran producer.
The former chief of censor board who has unabashedly worn saffron, says that he will start shooting soon. “I want to begin work on the film by November and release it during next Diwali. The younger generation perhaps do not even know why Diwali is being celebrated,” says the maker.
It can be recalled that even actress Kangana Ranaut had announced a film called Aparajitha Ayodhya based on the Ram Mandir court case a few months ago as a producer after the verdict on the temple and now she has planned to include the recent bhoomi pujan as part of her script.
The film was to roll this year and was scripted by KV Vijayendra Prasad, the creator of the Bahubali series. “The Ram temple has been a burning topic for hundreds of years. As a child born in the ’80s, I have grown up hearing the name Ayodhya in a negative light because the piece of land on which was born a king, who was the epitome of sacrifices, became the subject of a property dispute. The case has changed the face of Indian politics and the verdict has ended the centuries-old dispute while embodying the secular spirit of India. What makes Aparajitha Ayodhya different is that it is the journey of the protagonist from a non-believer to a believer. And since, in a way, it reflects my personal journey, I decided it would be the apt subject for my first production,” she told us then.
Kangana says that her film is about the story of the temple and how it was demolished by Babur and the story travels 600 years till the bhoomi pujan. The actress also adds that the film will have the story of many Muslim characters who fought in favour of the Ram temple.
Anil Nagrath, the secretary of the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) says that a few titles have already been registered since the judgement came on the case. “And now after Ramayana started airing on Doordarshan (the national broadcaster) as well as the Star TV channels, there have been a horde of people who have rushed to register titles on Ram. So, it is not just about the Ayodhya happenings, it is also about what stories the filmmakers feel they have missed out on,” says Nagrath.
Interestingly since the past one year, even Dangal director Nitesh Tiwari has been working on a huge project on Ramayana in collaboration with Allu Aravind and Madhu Mantena. Nitesh has been working on the script of the movie which was rumoured to star Hrithik Roshan, but the director dismissed all speculations stating that he would first finish the script before casting.
Meanwhile on the other epic, Aamir Khan too has been working on a Mahabharata series, Deepika Padukone had announced a project with Madhu Mantena on Draupadi’s perspective of the Mahabharata and a Chitra Divakurni novel is being adapted into a film by another producer.