Lonavla, Sep 3 (IANS) On Mother Teresa’s canonisation on Sunday, key parts of “The Mother”, a new docu-drama on the global icon who dedicated her life to the poor, will be shot in Kolkata, where she arrived in 1929 and where she founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1948.
“We start filming with the events of and after canonisation tomorrow (Sunday). The canonisation shoot is essential as that can’t be recreated,” Atul Pandey, who is co-producing the project under his Atul Productions banner, told IANS on the sidelines of the Lonavla International Film Festival India (LIFFI) here on Saturday.
The principal language of the film is English, and it will be dubbed in 17 more languages — six Indian and 11 foreign.
And the team plans to approach Indian megastars Amitabh Bachchan and Rajinikanth for its Bengali and Tamil versions, acclaimed actor Irrfan Khan for its Hindi dubbed version and singer Gurdas Mann for its Punjabi version.
“Let’s hope we get our wishlist of dub actors in all languages and it will be great to do this docu-drama,” said Pandey, whose yet-to-be released film “Money Devo Bhava” was screened at LIFFI, and added that “Road To Sangam” director Amit Rai is involved with the movie too.
It was a friendship with Vinko Grubisic of Jadran Films in Croatia that led to the germination of the idea of a film on Mother Teresa. The idea found more weight when it was announced that she will be canonised.
“It has taken us almost 10 months to set up the project. There’s one way we are unique to other films made on Mother Teresa. There are 20-something films on her, but they were all made before it was announced that she will be canonised.
“Our film is being made after the canonisation,” said Pandey, who believes “we owe a tribute to Mother Teresa”.
Mother Teresa has had her critics and detractors who have criticised her methods, motives and management. But Pandey, who is a right-wing supporter, believes that “once a person is regarded as a saint, he or she is beyond the critique of mortals”.
Pandey said he has no opinion now on anything that’s controversial about her.
“I have only an opinion on the humanism she spread — my only interest is in the activities she did for the deprived and the poor.
“There were four important figures of the 20th century: Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King Jr — One activist, two politicians and one humanist. Teresa was the humanist, and that’s why she interests me,” said the filmmaker, who earlier produced “Summer 2007”.
While the film’s associate producers are Macedonian Radio and Television, Michael Ward and Colin Burrows of Beautiful Bay Entertainment, UK, Sandra Pfeil from Germany is the production designer.
Is the team getting support from Missionaries of Charity?
“They are not very clear. They are supporting us in a way, but they will take a call about it later,” he said.
The budget of the film has been pegged at 2.5 million Euros to 3 million Euros.
To be widely shot in Kolkata, Darjeeling, Skopje, Croatia, Ireland, Germany et al which were key to her life, the narrative of “The Mother” will be told through five or six real people who are have been associated with Mother Teresa in some way or another.
“There are three levels of narratives, and one of the layers is from the perspective of people who have worked with her,” Pandey shared.
Will it be ready in time for release before Mother Teresa’s 20th death anniversary in September next year?
“We will try to manage. There will be sporadic shoot for four to five days till November, and then regular shoot will start from mid-January 2017. It should be ready for international premiere in August 2017,” Pandey said.
(The writer’s trip is at the invitation of LIFFI organisers. Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)