Sagar Arts’ ‘Vikram aur Betaal’ on big screen soon

Mumbai: Sagar Arts, the production house of late Ramanand Sagar, is all set to explore the fantasy genre on big screen with their upcoming project `Vikram aur Betaal`.

The veteran filmmaker`s grandson Shiv Sagar has taken up the mantle of producer and creative director of the movie. Shiv told reporters the film will go on floors in March next year and will be ready for release by the end of December 2011 or early 2012.

Shiv said the film is being made at a budget of Rs 25 crore with mostly new faces. "We want to ensure that the budget is spend on making international quality special effects and production values. Big stars are not required as the subject is bigger," he added.

Sagar Arts has tied up with foreign consultants for VFX. "The process of finalising the cast is on. We will shoot in Baroda and Ujjain," he added. The story dwells into the adventures of legendary king Vikramaditya of Ujjain as well as a spirit called Betaal and tantrik Bhadrakaal. "All the three are born on the same nakshatra but with a gap of 20 years. When King Vikram was born, Betaal was 40 and Bhadrakal 20 years of age. The film starts when Vikram defeats the Shakh warriors and returns to his kingdom in 57 BC and Vikram Samvat year begins," Shiv added.

The story also dwells on the love triangle of Vikram, princess Vasantsena and Kanupriya, the spy girl of Ujjain army

Shiv said only two of the 25 stories from the original Betaal Pachisi have been included in the film. Bhadrakaal who lives in a cremation ground wants Vikram to get Betaal for him.

The king agrees and later realises that he was being used by Bhadrakaal for some wrongdoing.

Shiv said the climax will have battle between Vikram`s and Bhadrakaal`s armies.

He said, "Fantasy as a genre is largely untapped in India. In the West, the top 30 highest grossers like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean are all fantasy films. In the South, there have been many mythological and fantasy movies and we are in talks with few directors and will finalise one name in a fortnight. Sagar arts will closely
work with the director to make the movie world class," he added.

Shiv said he had written the script in collaboration with a team of writers. "In such a project, intense story boarding is required," he said.

He said the film would not only appeal to children but also to teenagers and adults.

`Vikram aur Betaal` was one of Ramanand Sagar’s best television series. Each time the king succeeds in trapping Betaal, he has to listen to a story on his way back...These were simple stories which contained a moral, and a question at the end posed by Betal to Vikram.

Betal also warned the king that if he knew the answer and failed to answer it, he (Betal) would have his head. The cunning Betal knew that the king was too clever not to know the answer, and each time Vikram fell for the trap followed by the inevitable `tu bola aur main chala`.