First: Gurinder Chadha, a woman known for her light comedies -- most notably the hit Bend it Like Beckham -- is finally getting serious. As her latest, It's a Wonderful Afterlife, heads to the screens, she's looking to film a historical epic on the Indian Partition. "That was the moment in August 1947 when Britain clumsily split India in two, dividing secular but Hindu-dominated India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan," and Chadha will dig into how that changed not only the country, but the families inside it. Chadha is on her second draft, adapting from the book Freedom at Midnight. She hopes to have the script finished and ready to shoot next year.
Meanwhile, an open casting call has gone out for another Indian epic, this one focusing on Buddha. Director Ashutosh Gowariker (Lagaan) is looking for an unknown to star in Buddha, as the 500BC prince who became Buddha. While it might sound like a purely overseas feature, behind the scenes, the production isn't solely Indian. The Sting scribe David S. Ward wrote the screenplay based on Kyra Pahlen's The Warrior Prince, and executive producer Michel Shane (I,Robot, Catch Me If You Can) is also on-board.
The big question is: In a cinema landscape hurting for funding and box office receipts, how will two Indian epics fare?