Twice Oscar-nominated director Roland Joffe will return to India for his next film — his third venture in the country — in spring. This time, he will be shooting in the idyllic hills of Darjeeling.
“It’s a love story at its core that revolves around the life of a young Catholic Brother, his love for children and humanity, and the confrontation that follows when he falls irrevocably in love with a woman,” says Andy Khaitan, CEO of Los Angeles-based Mridula Productions LLC, which is producing the film.
Kolkata-born Khaitan, who also wrote the screenplay, says he “got lucky” when Joffe agreed to direct the film, titled Sweet Surrender.
“I knew he (Joffe) would be the perfect director for Sweet Surrender,” Khaitan told IANS over email. “He has enormous love for India, especially Calcutta, and it would be fun working with him there.”
Though some scenes will be shot in Kolkata, the film will be shot primarily in Darjeeling — preferably in Kurseong town where Khaitan went to school. Shooting is tentatively scheduled for April-May 2019.
“When I was in 8th or 9th grade in Kurseong (1978-1979), I came to know that one of our favourite Brothers didn’t come back to school that year because he fell in love with a woman and decided to renounce Brotherhood. That thought stuck with me for several years,” said Khaitan, explaining his choice of locales, and what inspired the film.
The storyline appealed to Joffe, whose 1986 film The Mission, starring Robert De Niro, told the story of conflict between Jesuit missionaries trying to convert Guarani Indians in South America, and Portuguese and Spanish colonisers who wanted to enslave the natives.
Joffe earned an Oscar nomination for Best Director for The Mission, which went on to win an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. He had earlier been nominated for the 1984 film The Killing Fields.
He also has two films based in India — City of Joy (1992) and The Lovers (2013); Patrick Swayze starred in the first and Josh Hartnett in the next. Indian stars in the two films included Om Puri, Shabana Azmi and Bipasha Basu.
Khaitan says Sweet Surrender, too, will have an ensemble of Indian, European and American actors, with the lead actors being from Hollywood and the UK. “Casting is in progress and the names will be released when they are set.”
The $10-million film does not have an Indian partner yet, but Khaitan says he is open to the idea.
“This is an international film, geared toward a worldwide theatrical release, and India has a huge film-going audience, so it would only be prudent to have an Indian partner.”