Krishna Shah explains his patchy CV by saying he has worked for the last twenty years on one concept – the telling of the story of Indira Gandhi. Finally, he has come up with the script for Mother. “This is the project of my life, both in its scale and the subject,”he says, “I have been working on the script for over two decades and it is simply a story that has to be told. It took me years to find a way into her story, but I found it with her role as a mother — both to her family and to a nation with its teeming millions.”
The film, in two parts, will focus on her rise to power and on her relationships with the members of her family, in particular her two sons. A Gandhi-style epic with a budget of $40m, it will be in two parts and will weave into her family’s story the big events of her stewardship including the war with Pakistan, the rift with America and of course the Emergency. Naturally, it will finish with her assassination in 1984.
The casting is currently still fluid although Madhuri Dixit has been approached to play the title role and rumours suggest that Helen Mirren may play Queen Elizabeth. Shah also hopes to sign up Tom Hanks and Tommy Lee Jones for Presidents Johnson and Nixon respectively – but if that’s the case, $40m is suddenly beginning to look a relatively small number. Despite being offered what could be the role of her life, Madhuri seems reticent about signing up. “Madhuri is keen to play Indira Gandhi,” explains a spokesman, “But she wants to sort out her personal life before taking up a film of such magnitude.”
The film is due to be shot in the US, India and Russia.