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Shower of fire and love on screen...

Arjun Sajnani's "Agni Varsha", due for release shortly, may have already fired the imagination of cine-lovers but the director is taking no chances. MADHUR TANKHA speaks to the man who has been Amitabh Bachchan's classmate... .

Arjun Sajnani... great expectations.

HE HAS been an actor but firmly believes direction is his forte. In the past he has directed many English plays. Now he is taking the next step - coming up with a full-fledged Hindi feature film. His debut venture "Agni Varsha" might have already become the talk of the town but he remains as humble as a schoolboy. Cool as a cucumber he has absolutely no airs and speaks his mind on most subjects.

In Delhi for promoting his debut film, Arjun Sajnani says: "This is a period film. Basically the script is outstanding and I have already made a play, `Fire and Rain' out of it. Girish Karnad, the famous playwright, had written it. For three years I have been passionate about this script."

The film was shot entirely in Hampi, which was the seat of Vijaynagar Empire in the 13th Century. The Archaeological Survey of India had to give the nod as it is a World Heritage Site.

Sitting in New Delhi's Hotel Le Meridien, Sajnani says: "I chose Jackie Shroff in the pivotal role due to his screen presence, capacity to become strong and arrogant. Also because of his commercial appeal -- he has a large following. His age was ideally suited to the character he portrays."

Incidentally, Sajnani himself has acted in Mira Nair's "Kamasutra", rubbed shoulders with Kabir Bedi in the second sequel of "Sandukand". He studied English literature and drama from New York. Some of his plays are `Other People's Money' and `M Butterfly'.

On the script, Sajnani says: "The film is based on a region which has been plagued by drought for the last 10 years. Jackie Shroff is performing a fire sacrifice and then his vengeful cousin, Nagarjuna, returns to cultivate a romantic relationship with Raveena Tandon, who plays the better half of Shroff.

This sets into motion a series of events and culminates into triumph of love. Lord Indra, played by Amitabh Bachchan, relents and there is a shower. Sonali Kulkarni is Milind Soman's love interest."

How was Amitabh Bachchan signed? Well, Sajnani and Bachchan had been friends since their student days in Delhi University's Kirori Mal College.

Photo: S Arneja.

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