The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shekhar draws Water before Mandela saga

Cannes, May 19: Shekhar Kapur’s ambitions to make a movie on Nelson Mandela will have to be put on hold — his next film is to be a futuristic venture called Water.

As he personally put up a poster for Water in the UK pavilion in Cannes today, Kapur admired the composition and told The Telegraph: “This is my next film.”

The words on the poster sum up the background: “2040 AD — When the well runs dry we will know the worth of WATER.” The image has skyscrapers in the background — a bit like New York — with a pipeline running into what looks suspiciously like Mumbai slums.

“You are right,” he said, adding, “it is meant to be Bombay in 2040, with modern Bombay in the background, and the slums in the foreground. It’s a city divided.”

Asked whether the film, which he intends rather optimistically to complete by next year, will be shot in Mumbai, Kapur replied: “Somewhere like Bombay.” Then he thought for a moment and said: “It is a Romeo and Juliet story.”

Kapur’s Water has nothing to do with the aborted project of the same name, which was going to be the third in Deepa Mehta’s trilogy after Earth and Fire. Her Water had to be abandoned in Varanasi because of political opposition from right-wing Hindu groups who objected to what they considered to be an unfavourable portrayal of widows.

As for the financing of Kapur’s new project, he is, like everyone else in Cannes, tapping potential sources of money. Sarah McKenzie, head of international marketing at the UK Film Council, said: “We are talking about it.”

Kapur, who made his name with Bandit Queen, also won critical acclaim for Elizabeth, although that did not win an Oscar after being nominated for Best Picture. His last project, The Four Feathers, a tale of British derring-do in the Sudan in the 1890s, achieved only modest success in America and is yet to be released in Britain.

For Water, he has assembled an impressive team. While he will himself be the producer, director and writer, his co-writer will be Andrew Niccol, an Oscar nominee. John Mhyre will be the production designer, while the editor will be Jill Bilcock, another Oscar nominee. The music will be by his trusted friend, A.R. Rahman.

Cannes is a good place to make announcements about forthcoming projects, and Bobby Bedi, who incidentally produced Bandit Queen, provided more details about his project, The Rising, which he predicted will be ready for Cannes next year. The stars are to be Aamir Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Rani Mukherjee.

The tale is set against the 1857 Indian mutiny, with Bhuvan of Lagaan transformed into Mangal, an Indian soldier who rescues his British commanding officer, William Gordon, during a fierce battle in Afghanistan. They become the best of friends but fall out when an assurance given by Gordon that the British are not issuing bullets greased with animal fat proves to be a lie.

One complication is that Gordon saves an Indian girl, Jwala, to be played by Aishwarya Rai. If Aamir has anything to do with it, he will get the girl, not Gordon.

“I will have the picture here in Cannes next year, and who knows it may be selected officially for competition,” said Bedi.

The director will be Ketan Mehta, with Nitin Desai the designer.

The music' No marks for guessing it will be provided by the ubiquitous A.R. Rahman.

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