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Gulshan gets close to Bond

Calcutta, Nov. 30: Never say never again.

Gulshan Grover must be telling his detractors, in true 007 style. Talked out of the race till a few days back, a sudden turn of events has made Bollywood’s Bad Man the frontrunner to play the James Bond villain in the upcoming Casino Royale.

And it’s all got to do with the change of face ' and geography ' of the 007 antagonist.

In the original Casino Royale novel by Ian Fleming, the villain was a Russian agent named Le Chiffre, who was the paymaster of the Syndicat des Ouvriers d’Alsace, a trade union controlled by Smersh, a Soviet counterintelligence agency. But the new Casino Royale will have a new villain to fight the new Bond, Daniel Craig. According to the Daily Telegraph, the film’s producer “Barbara Broccoli wants to work an Osama bin Laden-type character into the script” and “wants to replace Le Chiffre with a wealthy Islamic fundamentalist who provides funding for terrorism”.

Naturally, Grover, who was cast away because he just didn’t look Russian, is now in with more than a chance to bag the coveted role and to do a Kabir Octopussy Bedi, who is still the only Indian to have played a Bond baddie.

“All going good,” Grover SMSed The Telegraph about his meetings with the casting agents for the 21st Bond flick, the filming of which starts in early-2006.

A month ago, there was a buzz that Grover had actually been cast as the Bond villain. “I have never claimed that I have signed the film,” he had said then. “I had only told a few close friends in the media that it would be a great honour for an Indian to play the part. When I met His Royal Highness, Prince Charles, in London in October, even he said that ‘it will be marvellous’ if I get to play the Bond villain.”

A window of opportunity has opened up with the producers tracing terror to Asian terrains. They had originally planned to feature a baddie called bin Sane in Die Another Day, modelled on the al Qaida honcho, but since “it was deemed to be too soon after the 9/11 atrocities, so the character was canned,” say the Daily Telegraph’s sources.

Incidentally, in a recent Bollywood blockbuster, Anubhav Sinha’s Dus, Grover’s cha- racter was made to look like bin Laden. So, our man already has had his dress rehearsal.

Now, can he Bond with the biggest'

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