Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Weir Walks Out of Shantaram

Director Peter Weir has walked out of Shantaram, the movie based on the novel of the same name by Gregory David Roberts. Johny Depp is still the hero and creative differences between him and Weir are supposed to be the reason behind Weir stepping down. They still have time to bring in a new director since the movie isn't supposed to begin production until early 2007.

Weir has an impressive resume with films like Master and Commander of the World, The Truman Show and Dead Poets Society. Would be nice to know who is now being considered for the director's chair since the director's approach would have a lot to do with how India is portrayed in the film.

The majority of Shantaram deals with its hero living among the slums in Bombay. So the book deals with life in the lowest levels of our society and the associated poverty, disease, drugs and violence. But though Roberts talks about all this in detail, his love for the city and its people comes across very well. I wonder if this will come across in the film also. If it doesn't, the movie will simply be another film that ends up either making fun of the country by exaggerating its culture and customs and/or showcasing its poorer side (like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).


At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

posted the comment in the wrong post...here u go:

"But what made the book a really great read for me was Roberts' love of Bombay and its people" (from your review)

--> I feel that a lot of movies that capture the beauty and glory but not the "flavor" of the cities/villages that they're set in. Take away the great rustic story-teller Bharathiraja, I feel that even master filmmakers like Mani Ratnam present a stylized package of the locations where they set the story in...which is not necessarily a bad thing coz his films are visual masterpieces but just that they dont give you the feeling of being "there," save Mouna Raagam. Here're my fav movies where the location itself was a 'character' in itself, Throughout the story (not just a location for a song or an important scene) :

1. Muttam in Kadalora Kavithaigall
2. The waterfalls and the nearby locations in Achamillai*2
3. Delhi/Agra in Mouna Raagam
4. Chennai in Mahanadhi (every location is indicative of the changing status of Kamal and his children)
5. The village in Thanneer Thanneer
6. The banks of the river, in Mudhal Mariyaadhai...the scene where Shivaji and Radha catch fish ("idhu namma raasi") is an evergreen example of visual poetry.

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Balaji,

I have been a regular reader of your blog for the past 6 months or so and to say the least, I am addicted. This is my first comment though, but you can expect more from me in the future.

"Shantaram" has been appearing in the to-read-books-list for the past few months but never got to it. I will bump up its priority and start reading it ASAP.


At 7:04 AM, Blogger Chitra said...

Considering that the set-up is the Bombay slums, I would think the portrayal of India 'per se' would be just that. I really hope I will be proved wrong.


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