Joined: 17 September 2005
'Saif & I have a taste for weird cinema'
The director of Maqbool and The Blue Umbrella, Vishal Bharadwaj is all set to roll again with an adaptation of William Shakespeare's dark tragedy, Othello.
The film stars Ajay Devgan as Othello, Kareena Kapoor as Desdemona, Saif Ali Khan as Iago, Konkona Sen as Emilia and Vivek Oberoi as Cassio.
The as-yet-untitled film (beginning with the letter O) will be produced by Ajay Devgan's business manager, Kumar Mangat's Big Screen Entertainment's production company.
While talking about the filmi adaptation of Othello, Vishal says, "Like Maqbool, (an adaptation of Macbeth) the basic story is the same. Maqbool was adapted to the contemporary world so is Othello.
The setting is UP and the story is set against backdrop of the political mafia there. There are no gangsters there but the mafia in UP is allied with the political parties there. Ajay's character heads such a gang there while Vivek is one of the members in it."
Why does he love Shakespearan stories so much? Vishal laughs, "I have a great story writer who has been writing for me for the last 400 years. His tragedies have so much of drama and passion in them. Shakespeare's characters are so human with their basic human traits - that they are relevant even in today's times.
They can all be fitted against any backdrop — political mafia, a corporate house, film industry — anywhere." The dialogues and music will be provided by Vishal himself while the screenplay has been written by Robin Bhatt, Abhishek Choubey and Vishal.
How did he go about the casting for the film? "While doing Maqbool I had thought of doing Othello and the only star I could think of fitting into Othello's character with his brooding intensity and dark charm was Ajay Devgan.
Then 10 months ago when I went to narrate the script he immediately said yes but we couldn't work out the dates. And only Kareena could play Desdemona — with her beauty and ethereal, luminous charm. It's a rare combination and together with Ajay will form a perfect contrast."
What made him select Saif as the villainous Iago? "Iago is the best villain in history and who better than Saif who is that rare blend of a brilliant star and extra talented actor.
Saif's unpredictability, his living-on-the-edge, taking risks and his ability not to take himself seriously all add up to his dashing appeal. Shah Rukh and Saif mein who baat hai. I have been talking to Saif for the last one and a half months and we have discovered a common passion for the same kind of cinema — we have a weird taste for weird cinema," Vishal grins. He plans to give "a shocking look to Saif's character in Othello."
Is it true that Ajay Devgan personally recommended Vivek Oberoi for the role? "Yes. I hadn't thought of anybody playing Cassio so when I narrated the script to Ajay, he said to cast Vivek as he would suit the image and the relationship as he's a part of Othello's group and there is an age difference between Ajay and him. It's again a perfect casting as Vivek has nothing to do but play himself."
He's working with a huge star cast today. "Yes," admits Vishal and continues, "Today frankly I want to see the initial of my film so I am choosing those actors who are not just stars but great performers too. By working with such people I can get both the performances and an initial which translates into box office money."
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