Mumbai, Oct 3 (IANS) It looks like 2008 is going to witness a fierce battle of historical warriors on the Indian screen.
While Sushmita Sen is all set to raise a sword to the Rani of Jhansi in her international homage to the warrior queen, Raj Kumar Santoshi who earlier cast Ajay Devgan as Bhagat Singh is all set to now transform the actor into Mauryan emperor Ashoka.
The film goes on the floors in early 2008 and will be jointly produced by Santoshi and the owners of the PVR chain of multiplexes.
Cinematographer-filmmaker Santosh Sivan had made a commercially unsuccessful film on the life of Emperor Ashoka with Shah Rukh in the lead.
Says Santoshi, 'I'm aware of Sivan's film. He's a fine craftsman. But my approach and treatment to this fascinating subject will be very different. My Ashoka will open during the Battle of Kalinga and move forward into the emperor's life and also recreate events pre-Kalinga through flashbacks.
'Though he was born in 265 BC, today Emperor Ashoka's message of Buddhist peace at the time of terrible strife and war is more relevant than ever. I want my Ashoka to reach out to the young hip-and-happening generation. It won't be a costume drama like 'Mughal-e-Azam'. It will be a happening epic on the lines of Hollywood's 'Spartacus', 'Braveheart' and 'Gladiator'. Technicians from all over the world are now being finalised.'
Santoshi, a versatile epic maker with films as far-ranging as 'Ghayal' and 'Lajja' to his credit, is toying with the idea making the film as a bi-lingual.
'Or maybe we could just have English subtitles to the Hindi dialogues since that would look more authentic,' Santoshi says.
The film will have no songs, but a background score by A.R. Rahman who has earlier done music in period films like 'Lagaan', 'Zubeida', 'Jodhaa-Akbar' and Santoshi's own 'Legend Of Bhagat Singh'.
This would be the second of the three historical-mythological characters that Santoshi is recreating with Ajay. After Bhagat Singh and Ashoka, the creatively compatible combination moves into the Ramayan where Devgan plays Rama.