India to make Bollywood Hitler movie
India's Bollywood film industry, famous for its lip-synched singing, exuberant dancing and wet sari scenes, is set to stray into unfamiliar dark territory with a film on Adolf Hitler.
According to the director's description, the movie appears to have more than a passing resemblance to the critically acclaimed 2004 German film "Downfall" starring Bruno Ganz.
"The film will recapture the last days of Adolf Hitler, including his life in his Berlin bunker and Germany after his death in 1945," Rakesh Ranjan Kumar, who is directing the movie, told the Mumbai Mirror this week.
The film will focus on the German dictator's personality as well as his relationships with his lover and other close associates during the final days of the Nazi regime.
Its makers say the title -- "Dear Friend Hitler" -- alludes to two letters written to him by India's independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.
Hitler will be played by veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher, who once played Gandhi on television, while former Miss India Neha Dhupia portrays Eva Braun, whom Hitler married hours before they committed suicide in April 1945.
"Yes I play him. Shoot starts in August," Kher wrote on his Twitter feed while on his way back from last weekend's Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) awards in Sri Lanka.
He asked fans to send him suggestions for books to read on the German leader.
Anil Sharma, the biopic's producer, said it was "an analytical portrayal of the ideologies followed by Hitler".
"We will try to show his fears, insecurities and pressures he faced while taking crucial decisions," Sharma said, adding that though the movie would have some similarities to "Downfall" it would be an entirely original work.
Sharma said he was still uncertain whether to include any song and dance routines, but ruled out any musical-style routines by Hitler or Braun.
The film, budgeted at between two and three million dollars, will be shot in studio and on location in India's forests and mountains.
No release date has been set, but the movie is intended for international release.
Bollywood often reprises the theme of a foreign film with virtually identical plots and characters, but intense material such as Oscar-nominated "Downfall" rarely attracts Indian producers.
In 2008 Bollywood released a film called "Hari Puttar" despite a lawsuit by Hollywood studio Warner Bros, which owns the rights to the blockbuster "Harry Potter" movies.
Confusingly, the film was loose remake of "Home Alone".
Bollywood has also moved into more realistic, hard-hitting subjects such as terrorism, Internet privacy and physical disability in recent years, but with limited success.
In 2006, a Nazi-themed restaurant called "Hitler's Cross" opened in Mumbai, but was soon closed after a storm of protest from Jews in India and abroad.
© 2010 AFP