Script details for the upcoming 20,000 Leagues prequel were leaked a little while back. It wasn't pretty
In many ways the script seemed a retconned jumble of the Disney film and Verne's Mysterious Island
backstory. And perhaps to have continuity with James Mason's elegant accent, they made Nemo a British officer with sympathies
towards the Indian rebels, instead of the actual Indian rebel he's supposed to be. Not too long after the script showed up on the internet, there were reports that the story was getting a major overhaul. No news on the revision so far.
But just in case they decide to go with Verne's version, I've got their lead picked out: Ajay Devgan.
He's a National Film Award winning actor who's perfect for the role. In fact one of his NFA Best Actor awards is for portraying a real life Indian freedom fighter in The Legend of Bhagat Singh
. But whether he's playing the hero or the villain, his characters are intense and complex, often alternating between firey passion and cool resolve. He expresses the conflicted psyche with finesse, as he did in the title role of Omkara
, a retelling of Othello
set in modern India. Omkara
deserves further mention. It's taut, gripping, with an excellent ensemble cast and beautiful cinematography. The growing sense of dread (this is Othello, after all) that comes with the careful unfolding of character and plot is like a runaway train. Saif Ali Khan is spectacular in the Iago role.
And having immersed myself in Hindi cinema these past several weeks, I have a different take on Slumdog Millionaire
than I did when I first saw the film. I'd still say it's extremely vivid and remarkable in its ability to place you in its world. But the rags to riches theme is definitely Western with the India setting only window dressing. And now that it's out on DVD, I hear friends and co-workers talking or blogging about it everywhere, and there's been more than a few whose world view of India is now a Mumbai slum. That was the criticism of many in the Bollywood film industry, but there are a few who hope that Slumdog's
success can be a bridge from East to West. I'm with them in hoping that can be the case.