THE IMMORTAL ASHWATTHAMA With Vicky Kaushal in the lead role, the film uses the character from the Mahabharata to present a sci-fi action drama
The journey of Akshay Kumar’s latest film began in Ayodhya, at Ram Janmabhoomi. The Canadian citizen boarded a private jet along with his co-stars, Nushrratt Bharuccha and Sri Lankan actress Jacqueline Fernandez, to “seek blessings” from Lord Ram. It was last year on Diwali that Kumar took to social media to announce the film, Ram Setu, directed by Abhishek Sharma (Tere Bin Laden) and creative produced by Chandraprakash Dwivedi (of Chanakya TV show fame). “Sach ya Kalpana (truth or myth),” wrote Kumar on Instagram. “This Deepawali, to perpetuate and secure the pious memories of Indian nation’s idol and superhero, Bhagwan Shri Ram, in the Indian psyche for eons to come, let us create a bridge which will keep generations connected with Ram. Ram Setu is our humble effort in this direction.”
The film is just one of many projects highlighting the Indian film industry’s current obsession with narratives rooted in Hindu epics and its characters. Currently being shot is Adipurush, a multilingual project featuring Prabhas as Ram, Kriti Sanon as Sita and Saif Ali Khan as Ravan. Other projects announced include Suryaputra Mahavir Karna, an “epic saga of the unsung warrior from Mahabharata”, written by poet and former politician Kumar Vishwas, and The Immortal Ashwatthama from Uri director Aditya Dhar with Vicky Kaushal in the lead role. Also in the pipeline are Nitesh Tiwari’s Ramayana, Kangana Ranaut-directed Aparajita Ayodhya and the Deepika Padukone-produced and starrer Draupadi. Even the gestating Brahmastra, starring Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan, has been using Shiva as a recurring motif in its pre-release promotions.
What has inspired this surge of big-budget projects in the genre? For Suryaputra Mahavir Karna producer Jackky Bhagnani, Hindu epics never get dated. Their everlasting appeal, he feels, lies in their many “uplifting, emotive, powerful stories”. “I feel Mahabharata can be told from different points of view because it has so many layers yet to be peeled. As an old saying goes, most stories are inspired by the Mahabharata,” he says.
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