Shekhar Kapur to portray the Buddha as human

PTI, September 12 2005

KOLKATA, India -- Shekhar Kapur's much-hyped and yet-to-be-shot movie Buddha would not shy away from showing incidents from the life of the founder of Buddhism who also had his 'fair share of pleasures' before attaining enlightenment.

Producers of the movie MCorp Global have made it clear that like any other Shekhar Kapur movie, Buddha would be based on the real life story of Siddharth, the prince who bathed in all the pleasures that man could ever dream of and Buddha, the enlightened, who experienced pains that no one could ever dream of.

"This is the story about a middle path in the life of a human who, like all of us, was faced with a challenge to make a choice between two extremes. And he chose an exemplary path forsaking all pleasures. So Buddha was human, after all, but attained the status that he did by making the right choice with courage," MCorp chief and president of the Maha Bodhi Society of India Dr Bhupendra Modi told PTI.

An audio-visual promotion of the movie done up by Kapur himself and set to music by A R Rehman sums up the essence of the movie in vivid graphics and sketches.

Alongside The Enlightenment, The Battle Within, Search For Self, The Inner Realm and The Torment the promotional video also talks of 'pleasure', 'love' and 'the demon' as important facets of Buddha's life to be depicted in the 60 million dollar Hollywood co-production.

Asked if Buddhists would not be offended with the depiction, Modi said "Buddhism is the only religious philosophy not based on god. It is based on a level of spirituality not relating to god alone. Buddha was a prince enjoying the best of royal luxury, he was married and had a son. All these are established facts."

The movie had been envisaged for a global audience and hence showing the reality of Buddha's life to people who did not have very clear knowledge about it would be an essential requirement, Modi said.

"If some country does not like it, it might ban the movie. But the truth is there for everyone to read and research in thousands of historical records. We have to be courageous enough to show the facts," he added.

The movie would also talk about lesser-known nuggets from Buddha's life like his panache for the martial arts in his early days or his propagating the use of elephants as a prince who wanted to strengthen his line of defence alongside that of offence in wars.

The research for the film is over and legal agreements with technicians, co-producers and researchers would take some more time to be finalised. The cast would be global, Modi said adding it was too early to name the lead stars.

Richard Gere, who is also helping the producers with research, would have a major role in the film.

"The shooting will begin around end of next year but that is a fair enough time to give to an epic of such nature," he added.

The producers would spend another 70 million dollars in marketing the movie across the world, Modi added.