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Bollywood bonkers for Taj Mahal titles

Khan, Bala, Khosla see different prod'ns about famous site

NEW DELHI — Bollywood, it seems, likes doing things not just in twos but in threes.

Last year three pics hit the screens within weeks of each other that feature the life of legendary Indian outlaw Bhagat Singh.

Perhaps diluted by each other, none did terribly well at the box office.

Now it’s the legendary story behind the building of the Taj Mahal, India’s most famous monument, that has suddenly and independently gripped the imagination of three filmmakers — Akbar Khan, Bharat Bala and relative newcomer Robin Khosla.

While the story of the Taj was filmed periodically between 1941 and 1963, no moviemaker has touched the subject since then.

Khosla’s “Taj Mahal — A Monument of Love” is expected to be first off the starting block, hitting screens in September.

His 60 million rupee ($1.3 million) bilingual film — English and Hindi — aims to capture both local and international audiences.

The film is based on the journey of an American woman, played by Hollywood actress Sabrina Avilla, who visits Agra to see the Taj Mahal and find the meaning of true love.

During her explorations, the story of the deep love between Moghul emperor Shah Jehan and his second wife, Mumtaz Mahal, is related in a movie-within-a-movie.

When his beloved wife died during childbirth, the emperor ordered the Taj built as a symbol of his love.

More than 10,000 artisans toiled for two decades to construct the mausoleum, which is visited each year by hundreds of thousands of tourists.

Khosla is producing his low-budget film with Canadian production company Eastern Visions, with most of it being shot in Jammu and Kashmir, in Indian Kashmir and in Agra and Bombay.

Meanwhile, Khan’s bigger-budget “Taj Mahal — The Eternal Story” is expected to be released in December, with Khan promising “lavish sets and costumes.”

Industry sources said Bharat Bala, working on an IMAX project simply entitled “Taj Mahal,” plans to cast popular actress and former Miss World Aishwariya Rai in his film, which is set for release early next year.