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Mira Nair: Harry Potter...Maybe! Rani Mukherjee...Yes!

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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Mira Nair is reluctant to talk about the proposal to direct the fifth movie in the Harry Potter series, but she's delighted to discuss her next project - an adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's novel "The Namesake".

Hum Tum WallpapersFor those who wondered where Rani Mukherjee could go after Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Black" (which opens in December), here's the answer in two words - Mira Nair.

Speaking from New York, where she has returned from the Venice premiere of "Vanity Fair", Nair confirmed her collaboration with Rani.

"Yes, I've signed Rani Mukherjee to play the pivotal role of Ashima in 'The Namesake'. I've been wooing her over the phone ever since I saw her in Mani Ratnam's 'Yuva'."

This isn't the first time that duchess of diaspora Nair will direct an Indian cast.

She worked with Nana Patekar and Aneeta Kanwar in her first film "Salaam Bombay", Sharmila Tagore and Roshan Seth in "Mississippi Masala" and Naseeruddin Shah and a host of Indian actors in "Monsoon Wedding".

As for the much-hyped reports about her being asked to direct the fifth segment of the Harry Potter series, Nair is reluctant to discuss it.

Though she doesn't deny the fact that she has been approached, Nair said: "Right now it's too early to talk about it. I don't know how it got out on the websites. I have to sit with them and work out the dates.

"Until then I am forbidden from talking about it. Right now I'm fully into 'The Namesake' and looking forward to meeting up with Rani."

Though she's extremely tight-lipped about her collaboration with Nair, Rani, who goes into this project after her world tour with Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta, is supposed to play a Bengali girl who ages from her teens to the mid-40s.

"The Namesake" is about the Bengali experience in the US and is Nair's second heroine-oriented subject in a row. After her much talked-about collaboration with Reese Witherspoon, it would be interesting to see what Nair does with Rani, who's currently riding an unprecedented career high with hits like "Saathiya", "Chalte Chalte" and "Hum Tum" placing her ahead of the competition.

With Yash Chopra and Sanjay Bhansali's epics lined up for release, Rani's progression towards the West seems natural and inevitable.

After "Vanity Fair", Nair was supposed to go into a completely different project - a movie adaptation of American playwright Tony Kushner's "Homebody/Kabul".

Nair changed her mind because she wanted to do something Indian after "Vanity Fair".

Mira Nair will travel to Kolkata shortly to finalise the rest of the cast, though the male protagonist could be played by an Indian actor from the US.


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