Mumbai: Prakash Jha has accumulated a formidable cast of actors for his next directorial venture Rajniti that blends contemporary Indian politics with chapters from the Mahabharata.
"Ajay Devgan will play a modern day Karna. And, believe it or not, Nana Patekar, who was fantastic as the corrupt politician in Apaharan, has been cast as Lord Krishna," Jha told IANS.
Rajniti will be the most expensive film Jha has ever produced.
Also in the cast are Viveik Oberoi and Manoj Bajpai. "These are actors I've not worked with before. I'm looking forward to directing them.
"Ajay and Nana are old friends. We share a fantastic comfort level."
In fact, recently the Marathi Nana and the Bihari Jha participated in a debate on the anti-north Indian campaign led by Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray in Maharashtra on NDTV.
After the debate, Raj Thackeray apparently rang up Jha for presenting a balanced view.
"Raj is a friend and an intelligent, educated man. I truly believe artistes need to rise above politics. I make cinema on politics, but I'd never be part of it.
"Likewise Nana, who was so stunning as a wily politician in Apaharan, will I'm sure be equally adept at playing Krishna in my Rajniti," said Jha, who has the politically charged film GangaaJal to his credit.
The crucial question before Jha now is to find a suitable actor to play Arjun. The character, as conceived by Jha, modernises the mythological elements from the Mahabharata.
Jha is thinking of roping in an upcoming superstar, who's currently being toasted as the most exciting actor since Shah Rukh Khan, to play the role. However, he didn't disclose the name.
"Yes, I've an ideal actor in mind for the role of Arjun."
Rajniti won't be the first contemporary take on the Mahabharata. Three decades ago, Shyam Benegal attempted to incorporate elements from the epic into contemporary entrepreneurship in the film "Kalyug".
Now Jha will blend mythology with Indian politics. Interestingly, earlier he wanted to film just the Draupadi section of the Mahabharata with Madhuri Dixit in the lead. He shelved the idea when he heard other filmmakers were barking up the same tree.