Indian director plans film on Persian poet Rumi
Bombay, Aug 14, 2003 - Veteran Indian director Muzzafar Ali is making a comeback to filmmaking after a break of more than a decade with a 25 million dollar project on the life of Rumi, the 13th century Persian saint and poet.
Ali, who directed one of India's biggest film hits, "Umraojan," in the late 1980s, is hoping to cast popular Hollywood stars such as Daniel Day-Lewis, Roberto De Niro or Al Pacino.
He said the movie will revolve around Sheikh Jalaluddin Rumi's life and two of his great literary works -- "Diwan" and the immortal "Mathnav" -- containing 26,600 couplets written by him over 10 years. "A lot of help is coming from the Turkish government. They like the subject because no film has ever been made on this great saint on a global scale," Ali told AFP.
"The Minister of Culture in the Turkish government, Erkan Muncu, has shown keen interest in the project and he has promised me all kinds of help to make this film."
Ali is working on the script after 10 years of research on Rumi's life. He is keen to cast some top Hollywood stars to make the film truly global. "Daniel Day-Lewis is right for the lead role of Rumi, while other key roles can be acted by Al Pacino or Robert De Niro," Ali said.
He was, he added, also considering some Indian actors. "I have few people in my mind. I will sit with my casting director and we will soon finalise. I want to get people in Bollywood who will be committed to this project." Ali said his research on Rumi had encouraged him to make a movie on the saint at this time in history, when the world is battling the onslaught of terrorism. "Rumi is important to the world because he united east and the west. I feel that when terrorism is the problem to the world, this film will make people realize that it is important to understand each other's culture," Ali said.
"Rumi does not belong to any religion. His message is that of love. Through his poetry he talks about one god, the oneness of human race and goes beyond religion and talks. "His poems are very well read even in United States. He looks at the world as one world in his time. So, his thoughts are important to highlight."
Ali gave up filmmaking after he failed to complete his last project "Zooni," a story of a Kashmiri princess, in the 1990s. The project was planned after the huge success of "Umraojan," a film on the life of a courtesan played by enigmatic actress Rekha. "I don't want to make Bollywood kind of films anymore. I want to make macro films which will appeal to global audience," Ali said.
He is also confident that Indian audiences will flock to the movie, as Rumi is popular in the country. "Rumis work are well known in India. He has a great influence on the Indian masses. And, I am sure, people will love this film."
Ali plans to put special emphasis on the music and will be one of the music composers for the movie. "The film will have strong music. This is not a usual song and dance kind of film. It is different. And therefore, I have selected a team of musicians who will specially play the music," Ali said. "I have not thought who will lead the musicians, but I will be one of the persons who will keep an eye on the music of the film."
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