The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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AB set to slip into AB slot

Calcutta, April 8: From posers worth crores to props worth crores. From the pages of general knowledge to the pages of ancient history. From Mumbai’s Film City to Vadodara’s Sagar Film City. From Amitabh Bachchan to Angad Bedi.

The STAR team has finally found a replacement for its big-ticket show Kaun Banega Crorepati, in Prithviraj Chauhan ' Dharti Ka Veer Yodha.

To be produced by the late Ramanand Sagar’s Sagar Films, the lavish costume drama will be telecast from May in the KBC prime-time 9 pm slot on weekends, Friday to Sunday.

And why the decision to go from one era to another, and one AB to another'

“We couldn’t have replaced KBC with just another soap and so we looked at a grand historical to infuse some kind of curiosity among the viewers,” said Shailaja Kejriwal, senior creative director, STAR India.

“We at STAR also believe that India today is in need of heroes. While in KBC we had the biggest hero himself in Amitabh Bachchan, here we are trying to create another hero in Prithviraj Chauhan.”

So, if the USP of KBC was the bearded superstar quizzing his way into millions of homes across the country, the success of Prithviraj Chauhan will rest on the broad shoulders of Angad Bedi. Spinning legend Bishen Singh Bedi’s son plays down the Amitabh to Angad angle.

“It’s not that I can take over from the Big B. All I can say is that I will give my best. It’s bigger than anything STAR has ever done before and I hope to rise to the occasion and really play my part well,” says the man who acted in a critically acclaimed bilingual festival film called Kaya Taran.

“I have been undergoing training ' physical and speech ' for the last six months to get into the shoes of Prithviraj Chauhan,” reveals Angad, whose small screen exposure has been limited to playing host to the Karen Anand cookery show on STAR One, Cook Na Kaho.

Prithviraj Chauhan seems to be the flavour of the season with two big Bollywood directors trying to bring his story alive on the big screen. If Raj Kumar Santoshi has been planning to cast Ajay Devgan as the Rajput king, Pinjar director Chandra Prakash Dwivedi wants Sunny Deol to play Prithviraj.

But the Sagar family feels the three-hour span of a film is not enough to capture the heroics of Prithviraj Chauhan. “He is our Alexander, the greatest and most romantic warrior in Indian history,” said Shakti Sagar, Ramanand’s grandson, who is also the series director.

“In the 26 years he lived, he won so many wars and, of course, there was the famous love affair with Sanjukta. This has all the elements of a grand mega serial.”

Twenty of the slated 150-odd episodes have already been shot, with Angad slated to slip into the Prithviraj Chauhan costume from Monday. With STAR going for at least “a one-year contract” for the period drama, KBC Tritiya has receded into the distance.

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