Story of Jesus to get the Bollywood treatment

Cecil B DeMille has been there before, of course. As have Pier Paolo Pasolini, Roberto Rossellini, Mel Gibson, Franco Zeffirelli and Martin Scorsese. So maybe it was only a matter of time before Bollywood not only succumbed to the temptation but went one better by making its version in the subject's native land. Yesterday, India's Aditya Productions unveiled plans for a $30m (£19.5m), two-hour-15-min biopic which will be shot in the Holy Land and which it said would be "the first ever – in 79 years – Bollywoodian film on the life of Jesus Christ".

Although the picture will – unusually – mainly feature child actors, it will have an as yet unspecified role for the Bollywood megastar Pawan Kalyan – introduced to reporters at Jerusalem's King David Hotel yesterday as the "darling of millions".

Summing up the appeal of the story, which will be "a very faithful representation of the life of Jesus" from "birth to his crucifixion" with particular emphasis on his youth, the producer, Konda Krishnam Raju, said: "It is remarkable that this man who started his mission from a small village became within a short span of three years a force that influenced mankind for over 2,000 years and is worshiped by millions of people."

Stressing that the film – which will be made in English, Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam, will start shooting here in October and should be ready by late 2011 – was high budget, Krishnam Raju said simply: "It is going to be a huge one."

To judge by the almost reverential tone of Indian entertainment journalists being beamed into the press conference by video link from seven cities in the subcontinent, he is right. Although fewer than 3 per cent of Indians are Christians, Kalyan, who declined to say what part he would be playing, explained: "There are millions of people in India who follow Christianity. It is a great faith, a great religion. There is a great tolerance for other religions; there is a great audience for such a film in India."

The actor underlined his delight at being involved in the project by describing how, six months before he was approached for a part in it, his five-year-old son hurt his knee in a fall. "The first thing that came into my mind was mother Mary and what she must have been through seeing her son [on the cross]." As a result, he explained, when the producers contacted him about the film, "I felt a kind of connectivity with it." Kalyan said there would be music but not "song and dance like in other Bollywood films".

As part of the team touring potential locations, Kalyan said: "Israel has always been known to us as a conflict area but, after being here, we realise that it is like any other country and there is a lot to learn from here. In India we have great respect for Israeli technology and many other things."

Having been given the go-ahead to film in Israel by the authorities – who Kirshnam Raju said had been "very nice" – they are also making applications, already warmly received, to the Palestinian Authority to film in Bethlehem and Jericho. On the decision to use children between 10 and 14 as the main actors, the director, Singeetham Srinivasa Rao – one of Bollywood's top film-makers – spoke of the "innocence and sanctity" of children and predicted: "As with an animation film, after a few minutes you will forget they are children. We want to make it a classic."

Rao added, "The authenticity we want to create is the very land in which [Jesus] lived. We came to see the places of Jerusalem. We are excited, enthralled and thrilled, and we are getting the necessary inspiration."

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas