The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Filmmakers line up for Maya memsaab

Lucknow, March 17: First, M.F. Husain made headlines declaring Mayavati the prettiest face he had seen after Madhuri Dixit. Now, Bollywood filmwallahs are queuing up to make films on her.

The latest to jump on to the Mayavati filmwagon is Lucknow-based producer Harish Kumar. Two months ago, Yashwant Nikose had announced he would make a biographical film on the Uttar Pradesh chief minister.

Kumar has decided he will christen his film Maya Madam. “It will be a big-budget film which will highlight the role played by Mayavati in the uplift of Dalits and her courageous opposition to the caste system.”

He claimed the film would be launched soon and completed in four months, but sources close to Mayavati said she had not made any commitment yet.

“A number of film producers have shown interest in making a film on her, but so far she has not given a green signal to any of them,” a senior Bahujan Samaj Party leader said.

The actress to play the lead will be selected through an all-India talent competition. “Artistes from Bollywood will be roped in to make it commercially viable,” Kumar said.

Nikose’s film — which was announced at Mayavati’s birthday bash — will be called Sacrifice Lady.

The actress to play Mayavati has not been fixed yet but Nikose is trying to get Paresh Rawal to play her mentor, Kanshi Ram.

Like Maya Madam, Sacrifice Lady will be a big-budget film. Nikose said he had met Mayavati and discussed it with her. Kumar said she would be shown the script and the screenplay before he begins work on the film.

“Mine will be a commercial venture and the profits will be diverted to the Dalit cause,” he said.

Bureaucrats and BSP activists see the Mayavati rush as an indication of her growing halo. “She seems to have caught the imagination of Bollywood,” said an official, who accompanied the chief minister on her three-day Mumbai visit last week.

He said Mayavati had struck an emotive chord by presenting a cheque of Rs 100,000 to the ailing daughter of Dadasaheb Phalke, the doyen of Indian cinema.

“The gesture forced the Maharashtra government to announce a monthly pension for Dadasaheb’s daughter, Vrunda Pusalkar,” the official added.

Mayavati’s opponents claim the films are being planned to curry her favour. “Many similar projects were launched but dropped after Mayavati went out of power,” said Samajwadi Party MLA Shiv Kumar Beria.

Congress leader Jagdambika Pal said during Mayavati’s earlier stint as chief minister in 1997, Gulshan Kumar had said he would produce a film on her.

“Later it was found out that Gulshan Kumar’s real estate firm had received a gift of 200 acres out of the 700 acres in Greater Noida whose land use was changed overnight by Mayavati,” he said.

“After that, no one heard of either Gulshan Kumar’s famous film project or his golden city project,” Pal said.

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