Priyanka Chopra signed Ujjal Chatterjee for a Bengali-Marathi and part English movie a year ago through her production house and the shooting for the film was to commence from November 2018. But now, with Priyanka’s wedding and some creative differences cropping up between the actress and the director, the film has been stalled. Written by Ujjwal’s wife Sagarika, Marathi actress Vaidehi Parashurami was to play Nalini and Bengali actor Saheb Bhattacharya was signed on to play the role of Rabindranath Tagore in the movie. Ujjwal was paid a certain amount as his director’s remuneration too. The script, research and permissions for the project was complete, up until their fallout.
Based on the life of Rabindranath Tagore, Nalini dwells around the platonic relationship between Nobel Laureate and poet Rabindranath Tagore and his English teacher Annapurna Turkhud or Anna or Annabai, in the 1870s. She was the daughter of Atmaram Pandurang Turkhud, a Mumbai-based doctor. Tagore stayed with the family and took lessons in spoken English from Anna. He gave her the nickname Nalini and she inspired him in his early poems. Annapurna eventually married Scot Harold Littledale in 1880 and settled in England.
“Ujjwal and Priyanka’s mother, Madhu Chopra (who handles Priyanka’s production banner Purple Pebble Pictures), have been in talks since last year and the screenplay was complete and the artists selected for the movie. He was approached at IFFI last year by an international production house to make Nalini in English. Apparently, Priyanka’s mother, who was also at IFFI came to know of it. Workshops began when the conflict broke out. Priyanka’s mother called Ujjwal in January (post IFFI) this year and said they want to make the movie in English for the international market, as the screenplay was mind-blowing. He told her that it wouldn’t work in English and if Rabindranath talked in English, then why would he go to learn the language elsewhere?” a trade source says.
But Ujjwal had another creative issue looming. The source adds, “Apart from making Nalini in English, PeeCee wanted play Nalini and Dev Patel reprise the role of Tagore. Ujjwal said that was possible but Dev needed to get his Bengali pronunciations correct and work on them for six months. But PeeCee wouldn’t suit the title role. She is in her 30s and Nalini was a 21-year-old-girl. Nalini and Tagore didn’t get married. Ujjwal told her they could do another movie as Nalini was about a teenaged love or infatuation but she was adamant. The conflict began from here and they even started asking for creative changes in the script too. Then Madhu Chopra began stalling the film. She told Ujjwal that her daughter was getting married so the film would get delayed. When he asked her about the movie, she said they would do it but not till March 2019. So Ujjwal and his movie are now in limbo, as he doesn’t know what to do till Priyanka’s production house reverts back on the same.”