On Thursday afternoon, the Mehrunissa producer Nikhil Advani and the proposed epic film's director Sudhir Mishra drove down to Rishi Kapoor's bungalow Krishna Raj to discuss the latest crisis looming over the troubled project.
With the Big B going under the knife, once more Mehrunissa has come under another cloud. Just when the project's master-minds had resolved the issue regarding the film's producers (the Big B was disinclined to work with UTV and the project was given over to DAR Motion Pictures) his latest bout of incapacitation has placed a question mark on the summer schedule of Mehrunissa in Lucknow and Bhopal.
The new plan for Mehrunissa was to shoot with the Big B and Rishi Kapoor from April in Lucknow and Bhopal. But now with the Big B's surgery, the schedule seems unlikely. Also, Rishi Kapoor was not too kicked by the idea of shooting in the sweltering summer in North India. During the meeting on Thursday, he flatly told his Mehrunissa producer and director that he wouldn't be able to shoot in Lucknow and Bhopal in summer.
So where does the project stand now?
Says Sudhir Mishra, "Nikhil and I met Rishi. Shooting in the heat for him is not an insurmountable problem. He's the kind of actor who would give his hundred percent to any kind of climactic condition or hardship. The main issue for us is Amitji's health. With his surgery it's unlikely he can shoot in April. We just have to wait for him to recover."
Rather than postpone the film, Sudhir Mishra and Nikhil Advani have found a way not to lose precious time.
Reveals Sudhir, "We're just rearranging the schedules. We'll now shoot the younger portions of Mr. Bachchan and Mr. Rishi Kapoor's story with the actors playing their parts in the earlier part of the story. That would serve our purpose well. Because if we shoot the early portions first, we'd be putting the film together chronologically."
Interestingly, Mehrunissa producer Nikhil Advani wanted Abhishek Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor to play the younger versions the Big B and Rishi Kapoor. The idea was shot down by both the senior actors as too cliched and a burden on their sons.
Now two theatre actors from Delhi are being finalized for the parts of the young Bachchan and Kapoor.
Says Sudhir, "Getting look-alikes is not such a problem. But how do I make these young actors give a caliber of performance comparable with Mr. Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor who are among the finest talent India has ever produced?"
The time allotted to training the young Bachchan and Kapoor has just narrowed. The two theatre actors begin shooting in two months.