Shekhar Kapur is probably best known for directing the biopic “Elizabeth,” which garnered numerous Oscar-award nominations in 1999. But his latest project, a science-fiction movie called “Paani,” is generating lots of preproduction buzz. That’s impressive, given that he hasn’t cast a single role yet. The love story, set in a futuristic dystopian city in which the rich and poor are divided by their access to water, is thick with messages about the environment, poverty and privatization. The film, tipped to be shot mostly in 3-D and backed by an A.R. Rahman score (he won an Oscar for the score of “Slumdog Millionaire”), has been the subject of speculation in the cinematic press—most of it misguided, according to Mr. Kapur—about which actor will headline the feature.
Mr. Kapur and Danny Boyle of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame will co-produce the film, which is expected to hit cinemas by December 2012, and the pair have secured a budget of about US$35 million. Of course, the director says a film like this could call for a budget more than four times that amount, but he’s got a strategy to make the movie for a lot less, combining time-tested and radically new ideas: He plans to shoot in India and Singapore, for instance, to keep costs down, and to use the Internet as a tool to spread the film.
Shekhar Kapoor talks about Paani at Cannes Festival
“If you tap into something much more fundamental on the Internet and it starts to get viral, then it becomes more powerful than the money these people [in Hollywood] can spend…,” says the 65-year-old director. “Fundamentally what happened to music is going to happen to film.” Mr. Kapur believes Asian movie productions could someday rival Hollywood fare in its global reach. The key to this transition lies in the demise of the traditional film-distribution channels in Los Angeles and the rise of social-networking media as an integral part of a film’s production, marketing and distribution.
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