Indian producer plans $120m Buddha biopic

VNS, March 21, 2007

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam -- Visiting Indian telecom tycoon Dr Bhupendra Kumar Modi has announced plans to make a US$120 million movie on the life of the Buddha based on a best-selling book by renowned Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Modi, talking to the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha Congregation’s Giac Ngo newspaper in HCM City during his trip around the country with Hanh, said the film would be made by Buddha Films, a subsidiary of his Mcorp Global, in co-operation with Hollywood.

"It will be shot in many countries, including the US, Japan, China, Thailand.

"The casting for the film will begin soon, with producers currently considering a short list of A-List stars for the lead roles."

The film would be made in English but he hoped it would be translated into more than 100 languages later so that Vietnamese people could see it.

Modi had been nurturing a dream of making a film on the Buddha for 20 years but it only took shape after he had read Old Path, White Clouds (Duong Xua May Trang) written by Hanh.

"…Hanh has allowed me to use his book without any copyright payment. But he stipulated that the actors who play the lead roles must undergo at least three-month [worth of] deep meditation courses," he said.

Hanh explained that he wanted the actors to appear meditative and contemplative.

Moli said the film would have three parts: the first on the Buddha’s birth and early days, the second about his spiritual quest, and the third about how he attained nirvana, or emancipation. "It will be one of the most expensive films made in India."

Old Path, White Clouds is a best-seller across Asia with over 2 million copies sold to date. It has been printed in many countries including the US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Australia, China, Viet Nam, and India.

The book brings to life the story of the Buddha in a beautiful and vibrant style. It traces the Buddha’s life slowly and gently through the eyes of Svasti, a buffalo boy who provided kusa grass for the Buddha to use as a cushion as he meditated, and through the eyes of the Buddha himself.