Disney India has revealed plans for a two-part live-action film version of the mythological epic.
Abhishek Kapoor, director of hits “Rock On” and “Kai po che,” will begin work on the film once he has completed “Fitoor,” a Hindi-language adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” also for Disney India. The screenplay is by author Ashok Banker, best known for his eight-part novelization of India’s other great epic “The Ramayana.”
Though a budget was not disclosed, Kapoor is planning to make the films on a scale similar to Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” series.
“The Mahabharata,” a grand tale of two warring clans of cousins dating back to 400 B.C., has been adapted numerous times for the stage, television and film. The 1988-90 television adaptation by B.R. Films for Indian television was the highest-rated program of that time. Recent adaptations have not fared as well.
A 3D animated 2013 version by Pen Films titled “Mahabharat” featured a galaxy of Bollywood stars in its voice cast, including Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan and Ajay Devgn, but could not recoup its $8.2 million budget at the box office.
Disney India produced “Arjun: The Warrior Prince,” an animated film based on a character from “The Mahabharata,” that found modest success in 2012.
“ ‘Mahabharata’ expresses the universal truth; it has defined my understanding of spirituality and of all humanity. I aim to translate this onto the big screen, engage minds and deliver a world class cinematic experience,” Kapoor said.