According to a report in The Times Of India, Mr Bhansali is hoping to cast his Ram Leela heroine Deepika Padukone as Mastani and Katrina Kaif as Bajirao's wife Kashibai, and is in talks with both actresses.
"After Ram Leela releases in October 2013, Bhansali will start with the pre-production of Bajirao Mastani. He will begin shooting in April 2014," a source told The Times Of India. "Apparently, Bhansali has had a word with both Deepika and Katrina. The girls have shown tremendous interest," adds the source.
If Sanjay Leela Bhansali manages to pull this rabbit out of his hat, it will be Deepika's second film with the director after Ram Leela and Katrina's first.
All we need now is for Ranbir to be cast as Bajirao and Sanjay Leela Bhansali will have pulled off a feat to rival Yash Chopra's casting of Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and Rekha in 1981's Silsila.
Deepika and Katrina last appeared together at the opening ceremony of IPL season 6 on April 2, 2013, and reportedly shared extremely cold vibes.
Bajirao Mastani has been on hold ever since Salman and Ash broke up, ending Sanjay Leela Bhansali's hopes of repeating his Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam lead pair plus Rani Mukherji as Kashibai. Mr Bhansali then wanted to replace Ash with Kareena Kapoor, which plan was reportedly scuppered by Salman who wanted then-girlfriend Katrina cast as Mastani.
And who will play the title role of Bajirao? While it would be a love-triangle made in reel and real romance heaven if Ranbir - Mr Bhansali's Saawariya star -were to be cast, it could be Salman - Mr Bhansali's original choice and frequent collaborator - or even Ajay Devgn, who appeared in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam with Salman and Ash.