With a budget of $155 million, India’s Bollywood is set to make the longest poem ever written into its most expensive film ever.
The figure may seem paltry by Hollywood standards, but it is new territory in Bollywood, where costs for its highest-budget movies barely skim $25 million.
Based on the Sanskrit epic the “Mahabharata,” “Randamoozham” has surpassed previous record-breaking budgets like that of the upcoming Tamil-language sci-fi thriller “2.0,” which cost $62 million to make and stars 65-year-old action superstar Rajinikanth.
“It has even beaten the combined $65 million budget of the two-part blockbuster epic “Baahubali.”
The film will be financed by B.R. Shetty, an entrepreneur based in the United Arab Emirates, who has high hopes for the film.
“The ‘Mahabharata’ is an epic of all epics,” Shetty said in a statement. “I believe that this film will not only set global benchmarks, but also reposition India and its prowess in mythological storytelling.
“I am confident that this film will be adapted in over 100 languages and reach over 3 billion people across the world.”
“Randamoozham” will be an adaptation of the novel of the same name by M.T. Vasudevan Nair, an award-winning Malayalam author, who will also script the film.
It will be ad-maker-turned-director V.A. Shrikumar Menon’s second movie, with production expected to begin in September 2018.
Set to be shot in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil and Telugu, the two-part film will be released in 2020.
According to a press release, the cast and crew will “include some of the great names in world cinema including some Academy winners. The cast will have the best of talents from Indian cinema as well as some big names from Hollywood.”
At 1.8 million words and nearly 10 times the length of the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” combined, the “Mahabharata” is the longest poem ever written.
The text is believed to date back to between the 8th and 9th centuries BC and is traditionally understood to be written by Vyasa, a Hindu sage.
It tells the story of two sets of paternal cousins, the Pandava princes, whose father is the deceased King Pandu, and the Kauravas, sons of the blind King Dhritarashtra. The Pandavas and the Kauravas become rivals as they battle for the ancestral kingdom of Bharata.
Along with being an epic war narrative, the “Mahabharata” also contains philosophical and spiritual lessons.