Filmmaker Kunal Kohli’s debut as an actor in Phir Se last year was a bit of a damp squib. Undeterred he pushes along to the most ambitious project of his life. “That’s right. I am doing a new interpretation of the Ramayan. Why another? Because I feel the message and characters of the Ramayan are more relevant today than ever before. We’re living in times when the Ramayan asserts its value to us in unexpected ways,” says Kohli who last directed Shahid Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra in Teri Meri Kahani 6 years ago.
So perhaps Shahid and Priyanka as Ram and Sita in Kunal Kohli’s Ramayan? “No no! Not stars. I am going with relative newcomers in the Ramayan. It is important to cast unfamiliar faces in the Ramayan. Established actors with images do not work in the mythological context,” says Kohli who feels there are episodes in the Ramayan he would like to use in his film.
“It is not possible to film the entire scripture. That was possible when Ramanand Sagar shot the Ramayan as a marathon television series. In a film one has to select certain portions.”
Kunal has zeroed in on the portions of the Ramayan he wants to shoot. “Now the casting is in process. We plan to complete and release the film by next year.” Is Kunal attempting to be politically correct by making the Ramayan at a time when Hindutva is a big political force? “Not at all! I am not the least political. I don’t even pretend to understand politics. My decision to film the Ramayan has nothing to do politics.”