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Net cast in Tollywood
- Kaante actor remaking his Astitva in Bengali

Bengal suddenly seems to be a favourite destination for Bollywood film-makers. Director Mahesh Manjrekar is in town to pick the “supporting cast” for the remake of his successful Marathi and Hindi production, Astitva. The hour-long film, starring Tabu and Sachin Khedekar, questions the man-woman relationship in a tangle of infidelity. “I am remaking the film in English and Bengali. Sushmita Sen will be playing Aditi, the protagonist of the film, who dares to challenge her husband and son about her identity,” said Mahesh, before sneaking into Metro cinema for Thursday’s night show of Kaante, where he has faced the camera for the first time. Manjrekar had long toyed with the idea of making Astitva in English. "I had earlier spoken to Madhuri Dixit for the main role but she wanted certain structural changes in the script. And then she moved away to Detroit. Sushmita, however, has no such problems. Moreover, she being a Bengali, I will have no problems of getting her to learn the language afresh,” said the director-turned-actor.

The Tollygunge cast will essay the roles of Aditi’s husband, their son, daughter-in-law and some friends. “I plan to retain them for the English version, since they are all versatile actors. I am particularly choosy about the role played by Smita Jaykar in the earlier versions,” revealed the director, who’s producing the film with some friends from the US.

Manjrekar's move to remake Astitva in Bengali can be traced back to Rituparno Ghosh's Badiwali. "I was floored after seeing that film. In the wake of that, I also saw some Ray films and decided that I had to remake Astitva in Bengali. The actors here are really good," added the director. Manjrekar says he has always found Bengali cinema “very sensible and realistic... Unfortunately, I began to make films pretty late in life. And all this while, I was establishing myself in the language that I was comfortable with — Hindi. But I see myself making more films here, once Astitva is released,” says the director.

Selection of the actors from Tollygunge will have to be quick, he maintains, since arrangements have to be made for trips abroad. The film will retain its original title in the new versions.

Ramesh Ranade will score the music for the bilingual, that begins to roll from February in New Jersey. Manjrekar expects the Bengali version to hit the theatres by September.

“I am now excited about my new Hindi film, Pran Jaaye Par Shaan Na Jaaye. This one stars Raveena Tandon, Tabu, Rinke Khanna, Namrata Shirodkar, Diya Mirza and Sanjay Suri and releases on January 17.

By February 21, we should begin work on Astitva and complete the film in one schedule,” concludes the director.

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