Vidhu Vinod Chopra's Yagna is now Eklavya
Probably as a tribute to his long-standing admiration for the mighty Amitabh Bachchan, filmmaker Vidhu Vinod Chopra has decided to rename his film Yagna as Eklavya, the role played by the ageing superstar.
Right after completing the initial stint for Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvidaa Na Kehna, AB flew to Rajasthan to plunge into Eklavya nee Yagna with a rigorous script reading.
The film's younger leading man Saif Ali Khan also flew down to Rajasthan to join the Big B.
"In my misplaced confidence I always thought I had a good voice...until I heard Amitabh Bachchan reading out his lines...and I died," reveals Saif. "He says every line as though it was Shakespeare! No matter how much you've heard about his mythic baritone it's still not enough to prepare you for the way he uses his voice."
Saif has never worked with Bachchan before. "Can you believe it? In my 12 years in the industry we've never been together. I'm trying to get over my awe of the man so I can work with him comfortably."
His remedy for nervousness? Imagining Bachchan in his shoes.
"I am trying to recreate the image in my mind of how Bachchan must have worked at age 35 with a senior, say Dilip Kumar in Shakti. That's how I'd like to behave while sharing screen space with him. I mean, come on...it doesn't get any bigger than him."
Saif was in Mumbai for two days before leaving for the deserts of Rajasthan, "with my bag, baggage, CD player, DVD player, the works. Rajasthan will be my home for the next month, and then I am done with Eklavya."
Girlfriend Rosa joins him later.
Saif's co-star in the film is Vidya Balan of Parineeta fame. Elaborating on the film's sand-swept ambience, he says: "Most of our films set in the deserts are family films about feudal fury. Eklavya is a thriller. That is what makes it so exciting."
Incidentally, Pradeep Sarkar who directed Parineeta is collaborating with the cameraman of Eklavya to work on a specific look. "I have never worked in a film like this before," says Saif.