Tolly in Holly with Bips and Billy Zane - After internship with Ghatak and flops with Prosenjit, Tapan Saha goes big with bilingual

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By PRIYANKA ROY
  • Published 20.05.09
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A Tollywood filmmaker with a string of flops to his name is going to Hollywood with a $15mn budget and Titanic dreams of making it big with “a paranormal thriller” starring Billy Zane and Bipasha Basu.

Tapan Saha, the director of the forgettable Prosenjit starrers Alingan and Apon Por in the early 1990s, intends to start filming Chimera in English and Hindi in Los Angeles, Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar in July.

Many might think that Saha, 55, is chasing a chimera but N’six Entertainments Ltd, a Hollywood production company spearheaded by Bollywood music-maker Tabun Sutradhar, has agreed to finance the film. Bipasha’s secretary, Tanuja, also confirmed that the bombshell from Ballygunge had been signed on to play the female lead. “Yes, Bipasha is doing Chimera and has allotted dates in July,” she said.

Saha, who cut his teeth as an assistant to Ritwik Ghatak in Jukti Takko Aar Gappo, had approached both Zane and Patrick Swayze for the role of an American doctor whose work brings him to a hill station in India, where he meets Bipasha Basu’s character. “Zane (Kate ‘Rose’ Winslet’s fiance Caledon Hockley in Titanic) loved the script and agreed to do the project almost immediately.”

Shabana Azmi, Victor Banerjee and Anil Kapoor have been approached for supporting roles; Kunal Kapoor has already said yes. Saha said he co-wrote the script with American TV director Daniel Silverman and did the rounds of producers’ offices. But how did someone who didn’t have even a Tollywood hit on his CV break into Hollywood?

“I had written a script that my mentor and yoga guru Bikram Choudhury gave to Michael Phillips, the co-producer of the Robert De Niro starrer Taxi Driver. Phillips was very impressed,” said Saha.

Chimera is yet to be filmed, but the maverick maker has already begun planning his second Hollywood project, tentatively titled Lost Love. “My casting director has approached Sharon Stone and I am told she is excited about the prospect of shooting in Calcutta,” he said.

Saha’s basic instinct tells him Stone will say yes.