Will Bhansali take on story of Shiva in screen adaptation of The Immortals of Meluha after Padmaavat controversy?
Sanjay Leela Bhansali has reportedly acquired the rights of Amish's fictional take on Lord Shiva but is it a safe move after the Padmaavat backlash?
Given the innumerable roadblocks he faced in releasing his recent historical drama Padmaavat, it is only organic to infer that Sanjay Leela Bhansali will not make a period drama in the near future at least. However, the film's impressive box office collection might just encourage him to dive deep into a mythological drama.
Bhansali has reportedly bought the rights to adapt bestselling author Amish Tripathi's popular novel The Immortals of Meluha on the big screen, in which Hrithik Roshan might be seen playing the central character of Lord Shiva.
Making a film about a Hindu God will be a significant yet risky move for Bhansali who recently invited the ire of Rajput outfits through his fictional take on Rani Padmavati, the deified 13th century queen of Chittorgarh. The protesters alleged misappropriation of history and disrespectful portrayal of the respected queen.
To helm an equally audacious, if not more, film on Lord Siva will be no mean task. Though he can argue that it is based on a bestselling novel by Amish, which is at best a work of fiction, even Padmaavat was inspired from a poem of the same name, penned by Malik Mohammed Jayasi.
Amish's book had gone unscathed as far as controversies are concerned. But to allow Bhansali a free hand in adapting it on screen would amount to a pan-India plunge. The big screen will not only lend it the reach, accessibility and hype but also Bhansali's operatic vision which is sure to scream for more attention when it comes to fruition.
Interestingly, Karan Johar had acquired the rights of the book before the term expired. He was originally planning to cast Hrithik and Kareena Kapoor Khan in the film titled Shuddhi but both the actors walked out of the project. Consequently, big names like Salman Khan, Ranveer Singh, Varun Dhawan and Tiger Shroff also came to the fore but none of these actors was finalised to play Lord Shiva on screen.
It was speculated that the reason behind the same could also be the apprehension to depict a Hindu god on screen, given the fact that Johar's school of cinema often glosses over its content rather than staying true to the written word (an example is Abhishek Varman's 2 States based on Chetan Bhagat's bestselling novel of the same name).
Shiva has not been an alien figure as far as popular culture is concerned. A number of TV shows, including the immensely popular Devon Ke Dev... Mahadev have been made on the cult figure but they have glorified Shiva more than humanising him.
Bhansali, known for attributing human qualities to larger than life figures and juxtaposing them against his grand vision, may not bow down to the popular notion. The resultant 'Padmaavatification of Lord Siva' may cause trouble not only for the filmmaker but also for the writer who has managed to stay away from the self-proclaimed custodians of Indian culture.
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