Shaad Ali signs Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee
It's been a long two-year wait for Shaad Ali, the erstwhile assistant to Mani Ratnam and Muzaffar Ali's extremely talented son.
By Subhash K Jha, IANS
But now, post the success of "Saathiya", Shaad is finally ready to hit the road in more ways than one with a film called - hold your breath, "Bunty Aur Babli".
"Saathiya" heroine Rani Mukherjee plays Babli but Vivek Oberoi, the film's male lead, is nowhere on the scene this time.
"I've another script with Vivek which is now on the backburner. For now, I'm making 'Bunty Aur Babli' with Abhishek Bachchan.
"I wanted a fresh cast and crew. Yes, Rani is back in my second film. But Babli had to be played by Rani. When you see the film you'll know what I mean," Shaad asserted.
Shaad and Abhishek have been very close friends ever since "Saathiya" was to be made.
In fact, Shaad had offered Vivek's role to Abhishek. Abhishek and Shaad got a chance to work together again when Shaad was assistant to Mani Ratnam for a bit of "Yuva".
Says Shaad: "Abhishek and I share such a strong comfort level that he was my automatic choice for 'Bunty Aur Babli'. But I wanted to pose myself a bigger challenge. I looked around for someone else. Now I've finally come to Abhishek. Believe me, he suits the role to the hilt."
"The film is set entirely in Uttar Pradesh. And who is better equipped to catch the local dialect and flavour than Abhishek?" reasoned Shaad, himself a resident of the state.
His father, Muzaffar Ali, has shot some of his best films like "Umrao Jaan" and "Anjuman" in Uttar Pradesh.
"Bunty Aur Babli" - Abhishek-Rani's second venture in a row after "Yuva" - is a road film about two mismatched people on the run.
Reveals Shaad: "The film will be shot almost entirely outdoors in almost 100 locations. It's an uphill task.
"For this kind of film, where basically only the protagonists hold up the entire film, I needed actors who would be my friends and accomplices in the process of creation. I couldn't have chosen better actors and technicians," he added.
While "Saathiya" poet-extraordinaire Gulzar ("I'm addicted to him, and I don't think I can work with anyone else") is again penning the lyrics, Shankar-Ehsan-Loy are scoring the music instead of A.R. Rahman.
The dialogues, so essential to the interactive mood, would be by Jaideep Sahni of "Company".
Shaad says he wants to incorporate live sound in the film.
"But will it be possible in so many noisy locations of Uttar Pradesh? I mean, come on, I shot in-sync on local trains of Mumbai in 'Saathiya'. But 'Bunty Aur Babli' has to be shot on passenger trains in Uttar Pradesh. It does seem like a challenge. But I'm equal to it, if I get the right technicians for the job."
The film, to go on the floors Oct 1, is being produced by Yashraj Films, who seem to have taken a great shine to Rani. She is in their new release "Hum Tum" as well as Yash Chopra's latest - and last directorial venture.
Shaad can't stop singing Aditya Chopra's praises.
"He's been a friend, ally and creative sounding-board for this project. Without him I couldn't have gone through this long process of putting together my second film.
"After 'Saathiya', where I was creatively committed to transcribing Mani Ratnam's vision to Hindi, 'Bunty Aur Babli' is my first independent and original script.
"To that extent, I'm deeply challenged and excited. It's the kind of film that hasn't really been attempted before. And the more I look at my script the more I'm convinced that only Abhishek and Rani can be my 'Bunty and Babli'."