Play it, Sam. But this time in India, against the backdrop of Tamil unrest.

Casablanca, one of the most popular U.S. films of all time, is getting a remake from Indian filmmaker Rajeev Nath.

Nath, 55, says he will create a "tribute to the original" film, made in 1942 with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.

"As a student of films, I had watched this great classic 20 times," said Nath, who won an Indian award for direction in 1999 for his film Janani.

Nath plans to set his film in a coastal city in southern India and have his beautiful heroine, played by Bollywood star Mandira Bedi, fleeing India with her husband, a Tamil rebel fighting for an ethnic homeland.

The hero, an Indian diplomat-turned-restaurateur played by Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi, will put aside his love to come to their aid.

Nath said his film will not be political, but will be set against a political backdrop.

"It is neither against nor in support of their cause," said the director, who is veteran of 12 earlier films.

Casablanca is peppered with famous lines that have becomecliches — from Bogart's "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine" to "Play it, Sam" to Claude Rains's "Round up the usual suspects."

There is no word on which of these the new version, which will be in the Malayalam language, will retain.

The film is to be called Ezham Mudra (The Seventh Seal) and is scheduled for release next year. Nath hopes to premiere the film in the city of Casablanca.