Mehta, Winterbottom return to South Asia

Film industry buzz over the last couple of weeks highlights two new productions with settings in India during 2011.

Shooting of Deepa Mehta‘s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children is now underway in Sri Lanka according to Screendaily. Mehta has worked for two years with the author on the adaptation of his most successful book (recent winner of the ‘Best of Booker’ Award) set at the moment of India’s birth and thereafter. Mehta previously shot in Sri Lanka on Water (2006) after her attempts to shoot in India were interrupted by demonstrations by Hindu activists. This new UK/Canada production has been pre-selling briskly at film markets. Mehta’s earlier two films in her ‘elements trilogy’, Earth (1998) and Fire (1996) were both made in India (and caused some controversy). The Midnight’s Children adaptation is listed on IMDB under the title Winds of Change (which will be confusing in the UK since it is also a famous quote from Harold Macmillan about the end of British colonialism in Africa). IMDB gives a cast list featuring the cream of Indian film acting talent including Shabana Azmi, Irrfan Khan, Nandita Das, Rahul Bose and Anupam Kher and many others.

Here is Deepa Mehta talking about the adaptation in 2010:

Meanwhile, Michael Winterbottom is reported to have put aside his project dealing with the Jewish guerilla campaigns against the British in Palestine in the 1940s to start another Thomas Hardy adaptation. This time it’s Tess of the D’Urbevilles which will be re-imagined as the tale of a British-Asian man who travels to India to look after his father’s property investment in Rajasthan. Riz Ahmed (Four Lions, Centurion) in his second role for Winterbottom (the first was The Road to Guantanamo) is the male lead and Frieda Pinto is the Tess character in a story with the title Trishna. Michael Winterbottom shot A Mighty Heart partly in Pune but mostly in Karachi, which also featured in The Road to Guantanamo. His 2002 feature In This World followed two Afghan refuges on the perilous trip from Pakistan across Iran and Turkey and into Europe. The previous Hardy adaptations were Jude (from Jude the Obscure) with Kate Winslet in 1996 and The Claim (based on The Mayor of Casterbridge) with Sarah Polley and Nastassia Kinski in 2000.

We’ll try to follow what happens to these productions, both of which look like creating some kind of stir.

One response to “Mehta, Winterbottom return to South Asia

  1. Both of these projects sound potentially exciting especially Winterbottom’s take on Tess – strong casting with Riz Ahmed and Frida Pinto. As for Mehta, well, Midnight’s Children has taken a while to get off the ground but as you the say the cream of Indian acting talent have been recruited. I’m sure Mira Nair wanted to make Shantaram with Johnny Depp and Amitabh Bachchan but that has also stalled. Shekhar Kapur’s Paani (scheduled for a 2012 release) also looks like another potentially interesting project. We will have to see how all of these films turn out and I guess most of them will be shown at film festivals.

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