|It's official. And we got it out of Ajay Devgn's business associate Kumar Mangat. After the unending speculation about who would be taking over Sridevi's role in the remake of the 1983 hit Himmatwala, fuelled in no small measure by the neo-Himmatwala's director Sajid Khan tightlipped silence, it is finally out
Telugu and Tamil actress Tamannaah Bhatia would be playing the lead opposite Ajay in Himmatwala.
Says Kumar Mangat, "Yes, it's Tamannaah opposite Ajay in Himmatwala. The shooting starts in August. Ajay has Bol Bachchan on release and Son Of Sardar is almost complete. Himmatwala is the only other project he will start this year."
Significantly, names like Katrina Kaif and Anushka Sharma were bandied for the part of the whip wielding firebrand that catapulted Sridevi to stardom in Himmatwala in 1983.
Says a source close to the project, "Katrina and Anushka turned down the role. It was then that Ajay felt a Southern actress would fit the bill. He recalled to his director Sajid Khan and producer Vashu Bhagnani how Sridevi too had emerged from Tamil-Telugu cinema for Himmatwala. Besides, Ajay has lately delivered a big hit with another Tamil-Telugu actress Kajal Aggarwal in Singham."
We also hear that Tamannaah's role in the new Himmatwala would part radically from the original.
Says the source, "Sridevi in tight-fitting trousers and leather jacket with a whip in hand wouldn't work now. This firebrand opposite Ajay would wield a gun. 'Nainon Mein Sapna' from the original would be there. But it would be shot completely differently on Ajay and Tamannah."
There are some interesting similarities between Sridevi and Tamannaah. Both are Tamil-Telugu actresses making a bid to bombard Bollywood. Sridevi made a failed attempt in Solva Sawan before hitting big-time with Himmatwala. Tamannaah too has a flop Hindi film Chand Sa Roshan Chehra to her discredit.
"Tamannaah has already started working on her body language for Himmatwala. Unlike Sri who couldn't speak Hindi when she did Himmatwala and had her voice dubbed, Tamannah speaks fluent Hindi. She's a Sindhi gone South."
Other Southern sirens on the way to Bollywood: Ileana d'Cruz in Barfi, Taapsee Pannu in Chashme Buddoor, Samantha Ruth Prabhu in Assi Nabbe Puree Sau.