By Subhash K. Jha
Mumbai, Oct 16 (IANS) On the eve of her 60th birthday, Bollywood 'dream girl' Hema Malini says she is thrilled to play erstwhile Gwalior queen Vijayaraje Scindia in the movie "Ek Thi Rani Aisi Bhi", but says unlike her other films the role needed a lot of preparation and she had to spend considerable time with the Scindia family.
"I'm honoured to be playing the Rajmata. Do you know she was the founder of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and today I'm a proud member of the BJP and getting a chance to play her on screen," Hema told IANS.
"I think this role requires a fair amount of preparation. Something I haven't done for too many of my characters except 'Razia Sultan' and 'Meera'. Both were very close to my heart. And now I think this will be the third role that's very close to my heart," she added.
To be directed by Gulbahar Singh, "Ek Thi Rani Aisi Bhi" went on the floor Tuesday. It will be made in close collaboration with the Scindias.
"Though I didn't know the great lady personally, I've known her late son Madhavrao Scindia (late Congress leader) and her daughter Vasundhara (BJP leader and Rajasthan chief minister) quite well through my parliamentary work.
"In fact, I had been to Gwalior last year in summer with my daughter Ahana for a dance performance on the invitation of Madhavraoji's son Jyotiraditya Scindia. My colleagues in parliament were outraged. 'How could you go at his invitation when he's from the Congress?' But I think culture and art should be put above politics, don't you think?"
"I hope I can carry off the Rajmata's royal dignity and confidence," Hema said.
Aishwarya Rai was supposed to play Gayatri Devi, the Rani of Jaipur in J.P. Dutta's biopic, but the project was shelved.