SRK to play Awadh emperor in filmmaker Vijay Singh`s biopic

Updated: Aug 07, 2010, 11:12 AM IST

New Delhi: Paris-based Indian filmmaker Vijay Singh is in talks with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan for his next project, an 18th century historical love story between an Awadh king and a British girl.

Singh, who has shot critically acclaimed feature films like `Jaya Ganga` and `One Dollar Curry` in the past feels that Shah Rukh, who has previously played emperor Ashoka, will be perfect as Nawab Naseeruddin Haidar in his third film, `The Opium Symphony`, based on his book `Whirlpool of Shadows`.

"I had met Shah Rukh regarding the movie and he had liked the idea. I am planning to approach him again for the role of the Nawab. He ruled Awadh from 1826-36 and fell in love with a British girl but their love did not suit the interest of opium traders at that time," Singh told reporters in an interview.

"I have had a long association with Shah Rukh and wanted to cast him in `Jaya Ganga` but he was very busy at that time and things did not fall into place," he added.

In the city for the screening of his latest documentary `India by Song`, the writer is also looking for a face to star opposite SRK.

"I have good vibes with Shah Rukh and I need a descent actor so he is the perfect choice. Earlier I was planning to take a Hollywood starlet opposite him for the role of the British girl but I might talk to Katrina Kaif. I have been told she is British and is a fine actress," Singh said.

"The film will be very expensive, to be made on a budget of 60-70 crores. My screenplay is adapted from one part of the story but I might make it a bit more contemporary," he added.

`India by Song`, his latest film goes into the country`s history through Bollywood and reflects the sheer impact of films on Indian society.

Woven around a long journey across the country, Singh chronicles Indian history from the time of independence to present with real persons representing the different era`s that the nation has passed through, with Bollywood songs in the backdrop.

Encompassing diverse lifestyles and coming from all backgrounds, he has interviewed the likes of NR Narayan Murthy-Chairman of Infosys, historian-Romila Thapar, cricketer-Bishen Singh Bedi, Uday Shankar-CEO of Star TV, Mahasha Dharmapal of MDH spices group to choreographer Saroj Khan and Anjali, a domestic maid in Mumbai.

The movie, which has already been screened at Cannes market premiere, has now been selected to be showcased at the upcoming World Film Festival in Montreal.

"They are not my interviewees, they are almost like actors floating with the songs and images. I picked up one from 40`s, one from 50`s and so on. As you get closer to modern times, history gets complicated," Singh said.

"A lot of research went into the songs like Madhuri was of the first heroines to dance so I did not use images of Helen, as she was a cabaret girl and people in the West would not have understood it and seen it just as a transition. I picked up Salma Agha`s song `Dil Ke Armaan` to show cross nationalism of Bollywood in 80`s and compared it with the history of that time," he added.

Often the use of songs and Bollywood per say has been termed as `superficial` by critics, but according to Singh songs are an integral part of Indian society.

"History of India cannot be without emotions. My songs do not illustrate this film, they just illustrate the mental landscape. The total duration of the songs is 12 minutes, if you want it as a lesson on Indian history, it changes in songs. As a tapestry it moves," he said.

Constantly watching over Bollywood which is fast evolving, the filmmaker, who has also written extensively for the French Press, is happy that the space between commercial and art house Cinema is slowly disappearing.

"The technical quality has improved and art house and commercial cinema are moving towards each other with the multiplexes coming up. I also admire people like Yash Chopra, who stick to romantic movies and entertain audiences," Singh said.

`The Last Song` will be screened at the India Habitat Centre on 14th August.