Abhishek Bachchan and Konkona Sensharma to star in Mira Nair's film

Mumbai, Oct 30, 2004
NRI Press

Konkona Sensharma has replaced Rani Mukerji in Mira Nair’s next venture. Nair’s new film is a celluloid adaptation of Pulitzer-winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri's novel The Namesake.

Konkona Sensharma

First Rani Mukherjee opted out, apparently because the role offered to her wasn't substantial enough, and was replaced by Konkona Sensharma.

But the crucial casting of the main protagonist from Lahiri's novel remained a mystery.

There were rumours that Rahul Bose had been approached. But Bose clarified that he had never been approached, let alone offered, the pivotal role.

That crucial bit of casting is now in place. Abhishek Bachchan has been pencilled in to play the Bengali NRI protagonist Gogol Ganguly in the adaptation.

Abhishek Bachchan

Nair met Abhishek for the first time in Kolkata through mutual friend Rituparno Ghosh. They then met again in Mumbai.

And Nair has found Bachchan Jr. to be the perfect choice, except for one problem. Abhishek's dates have to be adjusted.

Nair's shooting spell for "The Namesake" clashes with another major project that Abhishek has just signed.

Mira Nair signed Rani Mukherjee to play the
central character of Ashima in
"The Namesake"

Mumbai, Sep 13, 2004
Subhash K Jha

Mira Nair is reluctant to talk about the proposal to direct the fifth movie in the Harry Potter series, but she's delighted to discuss her next project - an adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's novel The Namesake.

For those who wondered where Rani Mukherjee could go after Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Black (which opens in December), here's the answer in two words - Mira Nair.

Speaking from New York, where she has returned from the Venice premiere of Vanity Fair, Nair confirmed her collaboration with Rani.

Mira Nair is reluctant to talk about Harry Potter

Rani Mukherjee

"Yes, I've signed Rani Mukherjee to play the central character of Ashima in The Namesake. I've been wooing her over the phone ever since I saw her in Mani Ratnam's Yuva."

This isn't the first time that duchess of diaspora Nair will direct an Indian cast.
She worked with Nana Patekar and Aneeta Kanwar in her first film Salaam Bombay, Sharmila Tagore and Roshan Seth in Mississippi Masala and Naseeruddin Shah and a host of Indian actors in Monsoon Wedding.

As for the much-hyped reports about her being asked to direct the fifth segment of the Harry Potter series, Nair is reluctant to discuss it.

Though she doesn't deny the fact that she has been approached, Nair said: "Right now it's too early to talk about it. I don't know how it got out on the websites. I have to sit with them and work out the dates"

"Until then I am forbidden from talking about it. Right now I'm fully into The Namesake and looking forward to meeting Rani."

Though she's extremely tight-lipped about her collaboration with Nair, Rani, who goes into this project after her world tour with Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta, is supposed to play a Bengali girl who ages from her teens to the mid-40s.

The Namesake is about the Bengali experience in the US and is Nair's second heroine-oriented subject in a row. After her much talked-about collaboration with Reese Witherspoon, it would be interesting to see what Nair does with Rani, who's currently riding an unprecedented career high with hits like Saathiya, Chalte Chalte and Hum Tum. So many hit films in her kitty places her ahead of the competition.

With Yash Chopra and Sanjay Bhansali's epics lined up for release, Rani's progression towards the West seems natural and inevitable.
After Vanity Fair, Nair was supposed to go into a completely different project - an adaptation of American playwright Tony Kushner's Homebody/Kabul. Nair changed her mind because she wanted to do something Indian after Vanity Fair.

Mira Nair will travel to Kolkata shortly to finalise the rest of the cast, though the male protagonist could be played by an Indian actor from the US.