Did You Know? Sushmita Sen, Ketan Mehta, Aishwarya Rai… They All Have Something to Do with Rani of Jhansi

Will Kangana Ranaut’s dream of playing the Rani Of Jhansi ever materialize? Sources say Manikarnika is far from completion while it’s producer  swear it will release the next Republic Day.  The film started  on a negative  note with  the leading lady Kangana’s moral and legal skirmish with filmmaker Ketan Mehta over the creative rights on the material.

Ketan Mehta was not in the mood to let go of  what he considers his creative property. Mehta  never  got down to making the  film even after pledging he  would, in spite of Kangana’s exit from his version of the historic tale. Says a source close to the development, “Ketan Mehta is not a  novice. He is a very well-informed filmmaker. He will fight Kangana and her plans to take Rani Of Jhansi away intellectual rather than emotional heft. His  salvo against Kangana, dragging her to the Economic Offence Wing, was not  a hasty decision. Ketan is in this for the long haul.”

And why not?  He has spent six years researching on the Rani Of Jhansi. Way back in 2007 he planned to make the Rani Of Jhansi with Aishwarya Rai. This was right after she had turned down Mehta’s Mangal Pandey where the director had offered her the role that Ameesha Patel eventually did.

All seemed to work out until the budget played a villain and vamp. In 2015 right after he completed his Dashrath Manjhi bio-pic The Mountain Man, Ketan Mehta revived the project with Kangana on board as the Rani of Jhansi. All seemed to be going smoothly when  the actress simply decided to walk out of her commitment to Mehta right into another project with a different producer and director.

Ketan  claims he will go ahead with his version of Rani Of Jhansi. Deepika Padukone and Radhika Apte are two strong contenders to play Mehta’s Rani Laxmibai a.k.a Rani Of Jhansi. Sushmita Sen would  be more than slightly envious if either or both the above  Rani Of Jhansi projects helmed by Krish and/or Ketan Mehta, materialized. Sushmita spent three years researching, planning and preparing to play the Rani Of Jhansi.

I remember visiting her in 2007. She had turned an  entire floor of her high rise duplex into a creative war-zone populated by sundry academicians, research scholars, data collectors, costume designers…Hell, she was excited! She had  decided to turn producer  with her banner Tantra Films and she was practising horse-riding and sword-fencing for a role every Indian actress hankers to play.

But the project fell apart. The story of  her life….No one has been able to do a tenable Bollywood version of the Laxmibai saga  since Sohrab Modi in 1956.  If Kangana Ranaut manages to overcome the various mindboggling hurdles to finally see herself as the ultimate  warrior queen on screen she would go where many  prominent actesses from Vyjanthimala to Hema  Malini to Raakhee Gulzar to Sushmita Sen have dreamt of going.

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