Priyanka Chopra has given her fans a sneak peak at her look in the upcoming film “Bajirao Mastani,” but it’s hard to see the photo and not wonder what might have been if the original plans for the film had worked out. Because while shooting on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s latest epic has just started, the film has been in the works for over a decade.
“Bajirao Mastani” stars Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone as the title characters (Ranveer as Bajirao, an 18th century peshwa, and Deepika as his lover Mastani), with Priyanka playing the role of Bajirao’s first wife, Kashibai. On Oct. 9 Priyanka tweeted a photo of part of her costume: a royal white sari with with red and gold embroidery and an armful of period-appropriate accessories: pearl, gold, and green bangles alongside beautiful mirror rings.
But this is not the way the film was supposed to go. In 2003 Bhansali began work on the historical epic by casting Salman Khan and Aishwarya Rai as Bajirao and Mastani. Salman and Aishwarya had ignited audiences with their pairing in “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” and Bhansali was smart to try to cash in on their chemistry once more. However Sallu and Aishwarya, who were an item at the time of their casting, then went through a very public and difficult breakup. Rumors swirled about Salman’s abusive behavior towards Aishwarya, and it became impossible to cast them together. (Salman is still suffering from the repercussions of his behavior during that time in his life–he is likely to be indicted for murder for the 2002 hit and run accident which took the life of one man and injured three others.)
Bhansali dropped Aishwarya from the project and cast Kareena Kapoor in her place, and then scrapped the film altogether when this pairing was used in another film. And so the film was shelved for over a decade while Bhansali moved on, directing “Black,” “Saawariya,” “Guzaarish,” and most recently “Ram Leela,” in which Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh displayed an intense sexual chemistry which created a demand for the couple to be paired again.
There is little doubt that Deepika and Ranveer are the right choice for “Bajirao Mastani.” Priyanka’s photo prompted many fans to reminisce over the missed opportunity for Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Salman Khan, but it’s also hard to imagine Aishwarya projecting the type of sexuality demanded by the film. She is notoriously reticent to enact sexual scenes on camera, having performed just one kiss in her career, that being with Hrithik Roshan in the hit film “Dhoom 2.” From the sounds of it, “Bajirao Mastani” is going to require far more than just an innocent kiss!