Martin Sheen and Mischa Barton’s ‘Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain’, that was shot partly in the city, may release next year
Ravi Kumar, the director of “Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain” was inspired by “many wonderful books and documentaries” on the Bhopal gas tragedy when he decided to make a feature film on it. In 2009, Kumar got US actors Martin Sheen and Mischa Barton on board for the movie, through which he wanted to tell the story of “corporate greed and the hypocrisy of multinationals in dealing with the third world”. He says it was relatively easy to convince the renowned actors to be part of the project since they responded well to this universal theme.
Kumar shot with Sheen, Barton, Indian actress Tannishtha Chatterjee and several others at that time, and since he had to re-create the 1984 period of Bhopal, he shot the film in Hyderabad and Mumbai on sets and factory locations, and only a few critical scenes were shot in Bhopal. The “life-changing” experience was like a roller coaster ride for the director, who says that three years after the first shot, he is finally reaching the “end of this long journey”.
He told us recently, “We have been invited to some major film festivals where it will be premiered. The release dates will be decided by the distributor all over the world according to their plans.”
However, after the shoot, the director had come under attack from some local NGOs, which claimed that the movie was misrepresenting reality. But ask him about it now, and he says, “For us, there are no issues. The script that they objected to, is not relevant as it was an older version. You have to remember, 95 per cent of the film, crew and cast is Indian, our producer Ravi Walia is Indian… hundreds of them came on board as they believed in the script. Anyone who has seen the rough edit is proud to be associated with this epic and moving story made by Indians.” As far as the delay in the release is concerned (from 2010 to tentatively 2012), he says, “The film has been edited carefully, some scenes re-shot, as this is a historical document and people expect the story to be authentic and genuine. It’s been worthwhile fine-tuning the story as this kind of films have a long shelf life. ”
Right now, the film is with some very senior editors, and music composers from London and LA are working on it, says Kumar. While he does admit that the whole journey of making the movie has been difficult, he adds, “This is not a commercial project, but I’m glad to say that the finished film feels more suited for mainstream audience worldwide, thanks to the universal theme and the US actors playing crucial roles.”