Jun 19, 2010
A new article has recently been published with Bhopal film-maker Ravi Kumar. The article talks about several elements of the movie including possible release date time frames, premiere ideas, storyline and general conceptual chit chatter. Its a very interesting read for those of us looking forward to seeing Mischa in this film
Celluloid Memorial for Bhopal
London-based Ravi Kumar revisits the tragedy of the gas leak in his new film
In his apartment in London, film-maker Ravi Kumar sat glued to the television as the kickers revealed the verdict on the Bhopal tragedy. “We are very disappointed and shocked at hearing the lenient verdict given to the staff of Union Carbide. The US bosses of Union Carbide have not even been prosecuted. This is not a good precedent for future cases,” says Kumar via email. He is still seething in anger about the Bhopal High Court’s decision to acquit former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson, but there are pressing matters at hand — Kumar is in final stages of post-production work of his film, Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain.
The film, made on a US $12 million (approx. Rs 55 crores) budget, dramatises the events leading up to the tragedy on the night of December 3, 1986, when plumes of toxic MIC gas leaked from the Union Carbide factory, killing and maiming thousands. The film, with an international cast of Martin Sheen, Mischa Barton and Kal Penn from Hollywood , and Rajpal Yadav, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Akhil Mishra from India, will be ready for release in December.
“We want to premier the film on the 26th anniversary of the disaster but, being an international film, the release dates will be decided by individual distributors,” adds 39-year-old Kumar, who has co-written the script with British scriptwriter David Brooks Miller.
Kumar, a virtually unknown filmmaker despite three previous films, is also a trained pediatrician. He was born and raised in Bhopal but settled in London many years ago. He made his first short film in 1999.
Source: Indian Express
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The story of Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, revolves around Dilip Kumar (played by Yadav), a low-wage worker at Union Carbide, who lives with his wife Leela (played by Chatterjee). The tragedy unfolds before their eyes and transforms them forever. Sheen is cast as “the delusional and hardworking” Union Carbide CEO, Warren Anderson, while Barton plays French journalist Eva Gascon, who is in India for a feature on French families in Bhopal. Penn portrays a real life local journalist, Motwani, who writes provocative articles about an impending disaster at the plant. “David and I tried to keep the story entertaining and emotionally binding. It is fictional, but inspired by real events and characters. The technical and medical facts are authentic and based on interviews with surviving victims, and the Carbide staff,” says Kumar, who wrote nearly 10 drafts over four years.
The film climaxes with the explosion at the plant, and ends with a montage of victims coping with the aftermath of the tragedy. “The effort was to create coherent debate in society about the disaster and raise concerns in an incisive manner,” says Miller, from London.
Kumar claims to have found evidence against Americans, but he steers clear of legal references in the narrative. “We have instead built on the moral and ethical dilemma of the victims and staff without the benefit of hindsight — which we have now,” says Kumar, adding that the idea was not to influence the audience into believing that the American bosses were at fault.
Kumar adds that it was while reading Sanjoy Hazarika’s thriller, Bhopal: Lessons of a Gas Tragedy six years ago that he got the idea for writing this story. “I was intrigued by how a multinational giant walked away from their responsibility. Strangely, many people have never even heard of the disaster,” explains Kumar, about the reason to have an international star cast. “We have more chances of showing Bhopal’s story to the world if the actors are well-known stars. If this were a documentary or a Hindi film with no stars, it will be difficult to get an audience into the cinemas,” says Kumar, who shot the film over an 18-month schedule across Mumbai, Hyderabad and the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal.
Producer Ravi Walia, is currently in talks with the Madhya Pradesh government to keep aside a share of the profits for the Bhopal victims. Besides, Kumar is also planning charity premiers across the world.
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