Ben Kingsley wants to tell the world the Taj story

The film Taj will be shot extensively in India next year

Ben Kingsley wants to tell the world the Taj story

 
Lavender with Ben Kingsley.Even as his maiden Hindi film, Leena Yadav’s “Teen Patti” —co-starring Amitabh Bachchan — is nearing completion, Sir Ben is all set to start his dream project “Taj,” an epic film on the legendary Shah Jahan-Mumtaz Mahal love story.

His wife and actress Daniela Lavender is not only acting in the film but also actively involved in its production.

To be produced under the banner of Sir Ben’s SBK Productions, “Taj” will be shot extensively in India next year.

Lavender, who recently completed her tour with the British Shakespeare Company’s production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” shared her thoughts on the project with Deccan Herald from London on the eve of her travel to Goa along with Sir Ben to attend the 40th International Film Festival of India.

Why a project on the Taj Mahal?

Because the Taj Mahal has just been chosen as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and my husband wishes to bring to the world’s attention the fascinating circumstances around which this great monument was built.

We think India has great treasures that are a source of inspiration to the people from different cultures, so we wish to tell this story to the whole world.

What will be the focus of the project — the Shah Jahan-Mumtaz Mahal love story or the story of the construction of the monument with the love story forming the backdrop?

“Taj” will focus on the construction of the monument as a direct response to their extraordinary relationship.

What are the characters you and Sir Ben are portraying, and who are the Indian cast members? There were reports regarding Aishwarya Rai playing Mumtaz Mahal. Does that still hold?

Sir Ben is portraying Shah Jahan. I’m portraying his first wife Kandahari Begum.
We are yet to approach the Indian cast and crew members apart from of course Aishwarya Rai Bachchan who has committed herself to the role of Mumtaz.

What is the production schedule of the film, and who will be the important crew members?

We are aiming for autumn 2010. However, the film is yet to be fully financed, so no key person has been approached.

What prompted you to take up a historical project when the focus globally is more on contemporary India?

The issues explored in the film, especially love, are completely contemporary. The beauty of modern India is that she wholly embraces the ancient heritage.

How big will the film be in terms of production scale and budget?

I believe it’s in the region of $25 million. The film goes from the domestic to the epic levels.

Will there be more than one version, for the international and Indian audiences?

We intend to film in English. But it will be dubbed or subtitled into many languages of the world.

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