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Big Fight: It's Priyanka vs Kareena once again

Now that the ultra-prolific and passionately-productive Shyam Benegal has decided to revive his costliest project Chamki, a desi version of Georges Bizet's 1845 opera Carmen the question is, who will play the challenging title role of a free-spirited fiery-tempered gypsy?

Though Benegal is at the moment reluctant to reveal details, sources close to the project claim that the closest contenders for the role are Kareena Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra.

Both have already been approached in the past for Chamki. But chose to opt out before the final yes for various reasons.

Says the source, "Kareena was excited to begin with. She was supremely charged by the role and what Shyam Babu had done with her sister Karisma in Zubeida.

But then she opted out, as she often does from offbeat challenges like Deepa Mehta's Water and Rituparno Ghosh's Raincoat pleading it was too early for her to attempt something so unconventional.

Then came Priyanka Chopra who was quite kicked about the part. But she and the film's then-producer Sanjay Gupta had a fall-out earlier when she had said no to his Musafir. The role then went to Urmila Matondkar who had monetary issues with the producer."

With the film changing hands from Sanjay Gupta to Reliance it is undertood that money is no longer an issue.

If sources are to be believed Chamki has now gone back to the two original choices Kareena and Priyanka.

Says the source, "Kareena continues to have reservations about non-mainstream cinema. She was recently offered another heroine-oriented film by Rituparno Ghosh. She declined.

Barring Pritish Nandy Communications Chameli she has never returned to non-mainstream cinema. But now Chamki, set in Rajasthan, is being re-designed as a big broad epic musical with super choreography and lavish songs by Javed Akhtar and A R Rahman. No expense will be spared to make Chamki a big blockbuster."

According to sources Priyanka more than Kareena is the natural choice to play Chamki since the role requires a trained dancer.

Priyanka when contacted said she was open to the offer. "But I read the script ages ago. The whole project now has to evaluated afresh. And who wouldn't want to work with Shyam Benegal?"


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