Ramayana 3D

Left to right: Filmmaker Ravi Udyawar, producers Namit Malhotra, Allu Arvind, Madhu Mantena and director Nitesh Tiwari have come together for a trilingual trilogy on “Ramayana.” (photo provided)

MUMBAI— Producer Madhu Mantena will make a trilogy on “Ramayana” on screens, to be shot in 3D as a trilingual. The estimated budget is Rs. 500 crore.

Nitesh Tiwari, who has directed “Dangal,” and Ravi Udyawar, director of “Mom,” will direct the film in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu as a duo, and it will be released in three parts. The trilogy will be produced by Madhu Mantena, Allu Aravind and Namit Malhotra.

“Ramayana” will be made with actors from Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati and Punjabi films as the makers are targeting pan-Indian as well as global audience.

Tiwari said that they are ensuring that whatever is said and shown has the stamp of authenticity. Explaining his reasons for doing the films, he said his primary focus is the story, and if it pushes the envelope while challenging him as a filmmaker further and finds collaborators who share his vision and passion, he would have been happier – which has happened. All three criteria have been fulfilled in this instance. “Madhu and Ravi have been friends for years, Allu-sir and Namit are legends and Sridhar has fabulous credentials as a creator. All we have to do now is zap the world,” Tiwari said.

Udyawar is very excited and stated, “I heard these stories from my grandmother and mother and passed them on to my children. Everybody knows the story of Ram, Sita and Raavan, it’s the storytelling that will make our trilogy memorable, and I’m putting everything I have learned into it to make it fun and engaging while staying true to the original.”

“The project has been a work in progress for the last three years. Progress includes scenes from Ayodhya with its emblematic rose-tinted tree of learning, a gold-splashed Lanka and a lush-green Mithila with Nepalese architecture, beside battles between the devas and the rakshasas and the aquatic underwater life, among others. They will serve as references for the setting, costume, cast and action,” said Udyawar.

For Tiwari, the appeal of the epic also lies in its tableau of characters from Raavan, who is a reminder to people of all that he could have achieved but because of certain actions, ends up on a stake every year during Ramlila, while Ram is an embodiment of some values that people have since forgotten. “I went with my father and brother to the Ramlila every year, and though we all knew the story, it still evoked the same emotions in us when Sita was kidnapped or Raavan’s effigy burnt,” he reminisced.

A visit to Chitrakoot, where he saw Ram’s footprint and the outline of his bow, made the mythology real for the filmmaker. For Tiwari, his greatest takeaway from the story is Ram. “He was an ideal leader, husband, father and son. With time, I’ve realized that it’s easy for me to be a good father, but so difficult to be a good son. It’s made me a better son to my elderly father, and I can only hope that my son will also take good care of me,” he smiled. “Apart from Ram and Raavan, every character, be it, Sita, Lakshman or even Hanuman, has something to say, which is why we are telling the story in three parts,” he added.

The team has yet to take a call on the filming and the release plan, but they are hoping to kick off next year and are targeting a 2021 release for Part 1, promising that there will not be too long a gap between other two installments.

“Money and time are not a problem. Our producers have told us to be fearless and fly. So, we are flying visually,” concluded Tiwari, with Udyawar adding, “There are many sci-fi films but only one “Star Wars.” We have access to the best technology and talent, so what better time to let the world see what our country has to offer?”

Udyawar pointed out that Namit’s studio, Prime Focus, has bagged three Oscars in the last five years and many of the technicians there have been working on A-list Hollywood films and are now taking an exciting leap into the epical world.

“For me, the ‘Ramayana’ offers magic in its shape-shifting monsters. It’s something that even a toddler will enjoy. When I told my son, Rian, who is 12, what we were doing, he was jumping around all day wondering what Raavan and Kumbhakarna would look like, while my 15-year-old daughter Renee was visualizing the fights between Ram and the rakshasas in the forest. Having seen animated versions on TV, they can’t wait to see it in live-action. For me, the biggest thrill was when Rian told me that Hanuman is cooler than Superman. I am doing this for my children,” said Udyawar.

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