It's normal. The Ash-Vivek pair hasn't sent the box office ringing, so the distributors won't touch anything with that duo. Not just yet. But Vishal Bharadwaj swears that is not the real reason why his movie starring them has been put on hold.
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He however admits, "Timbuctoo starring Ash and Vivek, based on IAR Wylie's novel, has been shelved for now" Because on zero chemistry on-screen? Apparently not."
"Both Aishwarya and Vivek had committed to the film. Abbas Tyrewala had written the script and it's a beautiful, romantic film. But after I narrated the script to friends, they pointed out such big flaws in it that now it's being redone before I can begin it."
Knowing we won't get more out of the controversy-shy director, we asked him about his next project.
Chhatri Chor is an adaptation of Ruskin Bond's short story, The Blue Umbrella. The film stars Pankaj Kapoor and a host of newcomers including child artiste Shreya, who is the main protagonist of the film.
But Vishal is quick to caution that this film is not like his previous film, Makdee, even though it may seem. "My next project is not like Makdee nor is it a children's film. It's a story that fascinated me when I was doing Maqbool. It's about a young, 11-year old girl who comes to posses a beautiful umbrella.
She lives in a remote Indian village, where everyone lives in harmony with each other. The little girl owns a leopard claw, which she trades for the umbrella with some Japanese tourists.
A 60-year old unmarried schoolteacher, (Pankaj Kapoor) who has struggled all his life, wants that umbrella. His character is obsessed by owning the treasures of small children and keeps exchanging the little trinkets and things for sweets.
It's the journey of the girl and the schoolteacher and how they both begin to change. The girl starts becoming arrogant while the schoolteacher discovers an evil side to his personality, and he struggles to overcome that."
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Why is the umbrella so coveted? Is it magical? "No, but it's so beautiful that everyone wants to own it. When my wife saw it for the first time she asked me to get one for her for the monsoons.
The umbrella is my Aishwarya Rai in the film, it's that beautiful," Bharadwaj laughs.
He is all praises for his male lead, Kapoor whom he describes as "One of the finest and yet less explored actors in the country who becomes the character, on the sets."
The reason why UTV Motion Pictures-Production is producing the film says Aditya Shastri, COO, "We believe that Vishal is India's greatest storyteller. He had done a fantastic adaptation of Macbeth in Maqbool. Chhatri Chor is a film that will take us across markets in India and internationally. The simple, allegorical tale of an old man and a little girl will find takers from any audience who appreciate world cinema."