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India is set to make its most expensive film ever with an Rs 1,000 crore (£120m) adaptation of epic Sanskrit poem the Mahabharata.

Entitled Randamoozham, the two-part film will be financed by United Arab Emirates-based billionaire BR Shetty, and will dwarf the budget of the current record-holder, the two-part epic Baahubali, which cost a combined Rs430 crore (£51m) to make.

Randamoozham is adapted from the novel of the same name by acclaimed Malayalam author and screenwriter MT Vasudevan Nair. The novel reinterprets the Mahabharata from the perspective of the second Pandava prince Bhima. Veteran actor Mohanlal will star as Bhima, while Vasudevan Nair will write the screenplay for the film, which will be shot in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu.

“The Mahabharata is an epic of all epics,” Shetty said in a statement. “I believe that this film will not only set global benchmarks, but also reposition India and its prowess in mythological storytelling. I am confident that this film will be adapted in over 100 languages and reach over 3 billion people across the world.”

Randamoozham will be directed by former ad-man VA Shrikumar Menon, who told the New India Express that the film would feature Oscar-winning talents. “We are negotiating with the best talents in the world. We aim to make a global film,” he said.

The script will be based on an adaptation of M T Vasudevan Nair novel Randa-moozham (The Second Turn), which narrates ‘The Mahabharata’ through the eyes of Bhima, the second of the Pandavas.

The same writer, Nair will also write the screenplay of the movie. Nair holds a record of maximum National Awards for screen-writing in the history of Indian cinema.

“The film will be shot primarily in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu and will be dubbed into major Indian languages and leading foreign languages,” BR Shetty said.

Shetty, who is a founder and chairman of UAE Exchange and NMC Healthcare said, “The movie would be a true ‘Make in India’ made for the world.”

Shetty believed it would not only set global benchmarks, but also reposition India and its prowess in mythological storytelling. “I am confident that this film will be adapted in over 100 languages and reach over three billion people across the world”, he added.

Talking about casting, the director, VA Shrikumar Menon told media that Mohanlal will essay the role of Bheema. Mohanlal through his Facebook page also expressed his desire to play the role.

Interestingly, filmmaker SS Rajamouli is also planning a cinematic version of The Mahabharata. He had reportedly discussed the idea with Aamir Khan, who has shown keen interest in the director’s ‘dream project’.

The Mahabharata has been adapted for film and TV several times before. Hindi, Telugu and Tamil versions have appeared on the large and small screen over the years, while acclaimed theatre director Peter Brook famously produced a nine-hour English-language version of the poem in 1985, later adapted into a TV mini-series. Brook returned to the Mahabharata last year with a new adaptation entitled Battlefield.

Filming for Randamoozham is expected to begin in September next year. The first part of the series is set to reach cinemas in early 2020, with the second part appearing soon after.

TILL NOW THE MOST EXPENSIVE INDIAN FILMS

2.0 – Director Shankar made Jeans 20 years ago, which was made on a budget of Rs 20 crore. And the director has come a long way since then. His upcoming film 2.0, starring Rajinikanth and Akshay Kumar, is touted to be the most expensive film made in India (at least until The Mahabharata was announced). The early estimates suggested that the film will cost its producers more than Rs 400 crore and a large chunk of the budget goes to CGI.

BAAHUBALI 1 AND BAAHUBALI 2 – It has always been very expensive to make director SS Rajamouli’s vision a reality. He upped the ante in terms of productions with his blockbuster franchise, Baahubali. The film producers, Shobu Yarlagadda and Prasad Devineni, have spent a whopping about Rs 400 crore in the making of these films. As Baahubali 2 is ready to land, its trailers have already made a buzz with the high-quality CGI and production values.

RA.ONE – Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s superhero film Ra.One was celebrated as the most expensive film at the time. The production cost of the film was pegged at Rs 150 crore. However, it did not live up to the expectations at the box office.

ENTHIRAN – Director Shankar is touted to be the James Cameron of India for the sheer scale he brings to his films. And that costs money. In 2009, Enthiran, starring Rajinikanth, was made at a budget of Rs 132 crore.

KOCHADAIYAAN – Superstar Rajinikanth’s Kochadaiyaan was the first India film to be made using the motion capture technology. A technology which was used in Hollywood films like The Adventures of Tintin and Avatar. However, the final output was not up to its Hollywood counterparts. The film was made on a budget of Rs 125 crore.

KRRISH 3 – The was the most expensive film starring Hrithik Roshan in the Krrish franchise. The Roshans had spent Rs 115 crore on this superhero film, which had an all-star cast, including Priyanka Chopra, Vivek Oberoi, Kangana Ranaut among others.

I – It is Shankar again. His second outing with actor Vikram, I, is one of the highest  grossing Tamil films of all time. The film with the huge budget of Rs 100 crore, went on to collected a whopping Rs 225 crore worldwide. In the film, Vikram was seen in three avatars, including a hunchback.

PULI – Many films don’t share the actual budget. However, based on estimates, industry observers arrived at a consensus that the Vijay film was made at the cost of Rs 100 crore.

DHOOM 3 – The third instalment in the popular heist movie series clearly had a higher budget than its predecessors. However, there are conflicting reports about the actual number. While many reports suggest it was made at a budget of Rs 175 crore, some reports peg it at Rs 125 crore.

MUGHAL-E-AZAM – This timeless classic deserves a special mention. The film was made at Rs 15 million on a never-seen-before scale in 1960. It may not be a big budget now. But at the time of its release, it was a big deal. Probably, it gave  courage to other filmmakers to push the envelope further.

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