Disney India Greenlights ‘Mahabharata’ Movie

Disney India has revealed plans for a two-part live-action film version of the mythological epic.

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LONDON — Disney India has revealed plans for a two-part live-action film version of the Indian mythological epic “The Mahabharata.”

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.