Veteran producer-director Subhash Ghai, who, on Tuesday, announced that his banner Mukta Arts will co-produce a biopic about the controversial Indian guru Osho in collaboration with Rome-based Navala Productions, said his involvement with the upcoming project was inevitable.
"I have been reading Osho's writings critically for over 30 years," he told PTI in an exclusive interview in the India Pavilion of the 71st Cannes Film Festival. "He talks sense, he talks about the truth behind the truth, he talks about human values, traditions and laws and about man's relationship with God. He answered all the social, political and personal questions that had bothered me over the years. The ideas that I derived from him helped me write scenes for my movies," he says.
Ghai added that his 1999 film "Taal", starring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Akshaye Khanna, emerged directly from his abiding engagement with Osho. "He said, do not fall in love but rise in love. That was the thematic leitmotif of 'Taal'. I was inspired to create a female protagonist who looked like an Osho disciple, who loved a man without any sense of possession or obsession," Ghai said.
The new film, provisionally titled "Osho: Lord of the Full Moon", will be directed by Italy's Lakshen Sucameli, who has lived in Osho's communities in India and the US since he first met the mystic in 1978. "'Saudagar' writer Kamlesh Pandey introduced me to Lakshen," Ghai said. "He had been writing the Osho screenplay for five-six years. I received the script three months ago and things quickly fell into place." The film, his banner's first international collaboration, should be ready for global distribution in a year-and-a half, Ghai adds.
"The script does not uncritically promote Osho. It focuses on the many crises that he faced in his life," the director-producer adds. He asserted that the proposed film was not so much a reaction to the successful six-hour Netflix series "Wild Wild Country" as a response to the fact that Osho's life and ideas ever-relevant. "The Netflix series concentrates solely on the sensational aspects of the Osho community. Our film will be about the mild, mild side of Osho," he says.
In the screenplay of "Osho: Lord of the Full Moon", a female television journalist puts her career on the line trying to examine whether the guru is a conman or an enlightened genius. "In commercial cinema, controversial characters never fail to work," said Ghai, citing the examples of Jesus Christ and Mahatma Gandhi, who courted controversies in their times in pursuit of larger spiritual and political goals. "I had always been meaning to make a film on the life and times of Osho, but had decided to wait for the right time," Ghai stated.
Did he not consider helming the Osho biopic himself? "No," replies Ghai. "I wanted a western director to bring his perspective to the story in the manner that Sir (Richard) Attenborough did so successfully with Gandhi. If I make the film, I would be too personally and emotionally close to the subject to be entirely objective," he added.