Film on ‘Pushpa’ in works, Naomi Watts approached

New Delhi, July 17 (IANS) “Pushpa”, a vibrant account of Danish designer-turned writer Inger Solberg’s experiences in India since over 15 years, is set to be adapted for the big screen. The makers are in talks with British actress Naomi Watts for the lead role and were keen to cast Bollywood star Ranveer Singh too.

Solberg’s book traces the lessons she has learnt in India — a country she describes as “incredible” — and how she fought against money-hungry, uneducated goons, and bureaucracy. It’s a story of hardships, faith and resolve of a woman who never lost her spirit.

The writer was initially apprehensive when offers came in for a film adaptation of the book.

“Maybe I was afraid they would kill the story and use it differently. In film language, they call it ‘killing your darlings’,” Solberg told IANS in an email interview from Goa where she stays.

But an offer from celebrated Indian cinematographer Santosh Thundiyil — who has movies like “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai”, “Pinjar” and “Rowdy Rathore” to his credit — changed Solberg’s mind.

“He suggested that I should not sell the rights, but we should make the film together. Santosh also introduced me to the screenplay writer Suresh Nair,” she said.

German director Franziska Buch has been locked in to direct the movie, for which the team is “in the process of finalising the negotiations with Naomi Watts’s agents”.

“They have already given us the dates of her availability,” Solberg said.

Talking of why Naomi Watts suits the lead role, Solberg said: “She looks Scandinavian and could be a family member, so I thought her a perfect choice.”

“Since the lead role is being negotiated subject to the script with a big Hollywood star, and since it is a women-oriented film, I have chosen to work with the European female director Franziska Buch who also is an India lover,” added Solberg, who says she will work closely with the team to make the movie a reality.

The title of her book “Pushpa” comes from the name her Indian boyfriend used to call her by. He was killed in a motorcycle crash a few years ago.

Solberg wanted Bollywood’s livewire star Ranveer for a key role in the film.

“I had approached Ranveer Singh. I have also given him my book personally. Ranveer reminded me of one of the lead characters in the book, so he would have been the perfect artiste for that role.”

“Unfortunately, he is not available before end of 2017, which is too late for us. We are now considering other options,” she said.

This international feature film project is being proposed on the same lines as the successful multi-cultural collaborations like “Slumdog Millionaire”, “Monsoon Wedding”, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and “Eat Pray Love”.

The team has help from the Scandinavian Film Council and the International Brand Sponsors, and they have also approached a few production houses.

The author feels her book has potential to be made into a film as her stories are inspirational to women who need to live independently without fear.

“Lots of women, worldwide, live oppressed lives in bad marriages and other exploited situations,” said Solberg, who came to India with $40 in her pocket, fresh from a messy divorce.

“My story, my film is applicable to every woman worldwide (and men too). I hope it will act as a conduit for empowering women to live in hope and not fear. After all, tomorrow is another day,” said the optimist, who wears many hats as a business consultant, interior decorator, writer, real estate developer and a fashion designer.

The movie is likely to be shot in Delhi, Goa, Shimla, Risikesh, Jaipur, Varanasi — and as Solberg puts it — “the most beautiful places in my incredible India”.

Through the film, she hopes they will “show the glory of India which I love and will always defend, as well as show the darker side of India which many people, not only foreigners are facing when it comes down to business activities”.

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at radhika.b@ians.in)

–IANS

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