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Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya in Rituparno Ghosh's next?
Bengali director wants to cast her in his dream project

Subhash K Jha

For a long time, one of Bengal's prized filmmakers, since Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Bimal Roy and Aparna Sen, has been looking for a foothold in the national market. After working with two of India's most celebrated Bengali actresses, Sharmila Tagore and Raakhee in Shubho Mahurat, Rituparno Ghosh has become even more ambitious.

Now, he wants to work with Aishwarya Rai.

Ghosh's film will be an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore's fiery feminist novel Chokher Bali, that has been Ghosh's dream project for a while now. Besides Aishwarya, Ghosh's old-favourite Nandita Das (also in Shubho Mahurat) is the other contender for the lead role.

After her excellent performance as the Bengali character Paro in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's adaptation of Saratchandra Chatterjee's Devdas, Rai, in her second Bengali character, with take the Bengali market by storm.

To ensure the very best production values, Ghosh has also roped in two producers in Kolkata.

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In all probability, the actress will give the green signal to this striking and unusual project, as she knows that after Bhansali, it is Ghosh who can present her well. The entire Tagore story revolves around her character, a rare opportunity for Indian actresses.

After Devdas, Rai seems to have put herself beyond the reach of the average filmmaker in Mumbai. Her remuneration is well above Rs 10 million. Filmmakers are usually not willing to pay actresses such a high price. Recently, Karan Johar replaced Kareena Kapoor with Preity Zinta for the same reason, in his associate director Nikhil Advani's debut film Kal Ho Na Ho.

A reduction in her fees at this point of time may send out wrong signals to the trade. However, a plum role in a Bengali film, directed by one of the state's most successful filmmakers, would justify a lowered fee. The film will co-star Bengali superstar Prasanjit.


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