Mumbai, India. – It’s a subject that has attracted directors from Cecil B. Demille to Martin Scorsese and Mel Gibson.
Now Bollywood is getting in on the act with a film about the life of Jesus Christ.
Shooting for the as-yet untitled biopic – claimed by studio Aditya Productions as a first for the Indian film industry – is expected to start soon, with versions planned in four Indian languages.
Pawan Kalyan has been lined up to play the lead role in the Telugu and Malayalam language versions, with an announcement expected soon on the stars of the English and Hindi adaptations.
The film, which reportedly has a $30 million (about R220 million) budget, is to be directed by the veteran south India film-maker Singeetham Srinivasa Rao and produced by Konda Krishnam Raju, who has a number of Telugu blockbusters.
Indian media said today that the film would be shot in India and Israel and focus on the childhood of Jesus.
It will include several songs.
Rao told a news conference in Jerusalem yesterday that he hoped the film would spread “the message of love and peace” across the world, “wherever there is a conflict, wherever there is a war”, according to reports.
Kalyan said the film would find a receptive audience in Hindu-majority India, where about 2.3% or 24 million of the country is Christian.
“In India there’s a great tolerance towards other religions,” he told reporters.
Previous films on the life of Jesus have attracted controversy.
Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie, The Passion Of The Christ, was attacked for its violence, alleged anti-Semitism and historical inaccuracy.
Martin Scorsese’s fictionalised film, The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988), drew protests for its sexually explicit content.