Rs 4 lakh and counting...

That's the price Nitin Desai is paying to make Sonalee Kulkarni play the dusky protagonist in his directorial debut

While some women don't mind paying thousands of rupees to look fair, set designer-turned-filmmaker Nitin Chandrakant Desai is actually going the opposite way by spending lakhs to make his 'comparatively fairer' leading lady look dusky in his film based on the Ajanta Caves.

Sonalee Kulkarni

Last year, Desai told us first (HitList, June 22) about his plans of turning director with a film on the caves. He also mentioned that he was looking for a dusky actress with features like Smita Patil. Now it is being learnt that he has already spent Rs 4 lakh on the make-up of Sonalee Kulkarni.

Desai also says that he wanted his heroine to be a wonderful dancer also. He says, "The only one who could do that was Sonalee and she's quite fair."

Much to his surprise, the  actress persisted saying she could look dusky as well. "Sonalee told me that she had done a movie called Bakula Namdeo Ghotale, in which she had played a dusky girl, with the help of make-up.
After I saw that, I decided to cast her as Paro," explains Desai who's also planning to showcase Ajintha at the Cannes International Film Festival this April.

Nitin Desai

The filmmaker also does not want to spare any cost in making this film. He says, "Considering the subject and the kind of film Ajintha is, I'm not sparing any cost in making it as authentic as possible.

We've got original costumes for the British characters in the film set in the 1800s, and have got costume jewellery made for the characters who play Indian royalty, besides other important and suitable props and properties."

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