Abhishek Bachchan loses film to Akshay Kumar

The Players actor will not act in Neeraj Pandey’s Special Chabbis. Akshay Kumar pairs with Kajal Aggarwal in it

Mastermind. That’s what it boiled down to in the case of A Wednesday director Neeraj Pandey. It’s been four long years since A Wednesday and Pandey was about to find the perfect cast for his next directorial venture Special Chabbis. The subject matter is pretty interesting, being based on a jewellery shop robbery that happened in Mumbai in 1987, where a man posing as a CBI officer masterminded a bold, audacious and stunning heist in broad daylight. Initially, Abhishek Bachchan was pencilled in to play the mastermind, but then Pandey must have looked at some of his career choices like Players, Game and Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey and changed his mind. It doesn’t take a mastermind to figure out that currently Bachchan junior is box office poison. However, the chosen replacement also beggars belief. Akshay Kumar may have tasted marginally better success as an actor but he is on the wane as well. Indeed, rumours are rife that he is going to hang up his acting boots for good and concentrate on producing. Given the failure of Speedy Singhs, Cineswami isn’t sure if that’s a good move. The rest of the cast includes Anupam Kher, Kajal Aggarwal, Manoj Bajpayee and Jimmy Shergill. Kumar Mangat and Viacom18 are producing.

Apart from his hugely successful Punjabi film career, Shergill also starred in Marega Salaa, a murder mystery written by Pandey that unfortunately nobody saw. Post A Wednesday Pandey produced the charming and successful Marathi film Taryanche Bait. Besides that he’s been dining off the success of his debut feature with the Tamil version Unnaipol Oruvan starring Kamal Haasan gaining favourable notices. The English version of A Wednesday is also due this year. A US-Sri Lankan co-production by Chandran Rutnam, A Common Man resets the story in Colombo and the film boasts a heavyweight cast headlined by Sir Ben Kingsley and Ben Cross.

Meanwhile, producer Pahlaj Nihalani wants to make a sequel to his 1993 superhit Aankhen that starred Govinda and Chunky Pandey. This time around he wants to cast Ranbir Kapoor and Shahid Kapoor, both playing double roles, as compared to only Govinda playing a dual role in the original. We don’t know yet if David Dhawan will return to direct the film.

In a bid to resurrect his failed career, once-great director JP Dutta has acquired the remake rights of India’s unsuccessful Oscar entry, the Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu. He hopes that the Amitabh Bahchan will say yes to play the lead. Before he gets any deeper into production, Dutta would do well to examine the legalities behind the film. Kerala filmmaker Abbas Kalathod claims that it is ripped off from his 21-minute short film Maruppacha. “With the characters of Maruppacha given an elderly treatment and embellishing the story with exaggeration, Adaminte Makan Abu was made,” he said. Abu director Salim Ahmed was quick to deny this and retort, “I came across the story that he claimed to be similar to that of Adaminte Makan Abu. The story penned by him bears resemblance to that of the film Kuttikkuppayam.” See JP? It’s all a mess. Just go back to making your war films. Oh no, you can’t because the ministry of defence has denied you permission to shoot your next war opus…