Director Shekhar Kapur is better known not as one who made Masoom and Mr India, but as one who made the notorious Indian dacoit, Phoolan Devi, into an iconic screen heroine in Bandit Queen. Interestingly, the movie went on to make the dacoit a real-life star. She was voted to India’s Parliament, though the violence she had lived by in Chambal Ravines ultimately got her. She was murdered.
Bandit Queen helped Kapur to garner critical acclaim and foster his ties with the Queen of Film Festivals, Cannes. The work was screened here in the mid 1990s, and this year, Kapur is on the renowned international jury here, a position that Sharmila Tagore, Nandita Das, Aishwarya Rai and Arundhati Roy had held at different points in time.
What is different about them and Kapur is that he plans to nurture his ties with the Festival still further by bringing his movie here next year. Called Paani, its principal shooting will begin this November in Singapore and Dubai. Based on a book by Maude Barlow, Blue Covenant: the global water crisis and the coming battle for the right… and scripted by David Farr, Paani will tell a dark story about the looming water crisis.
Announcing this at a Press conference here today to coincide with the ongoing Cannes Film Festival, Kapur said his movie will dramatise how this shortage will affect relationships between individuals, cities, States and nations. The beautiful young daughter of the chairman of the world’s largest water corporation arrives in the Upper City of plentiful. On a chance encounter in the impoverished Lower City, she is kidnapped by the young handsome water warrior.
A love story that changes minds and methods, Paani will be set to music by A.R Rahman.
Kapur added that water could well become a weapon in the future with corporates taking over its distribution. “This is what I hope my work will draw attention to, provoke a debate and hopefully help find a solution to this grave problem”, he explained. When asked whether it could help catch the eye of the politician, Kapur quipped that his Bandit Queen did manage to do that. Phoolan Devi gave up arms, served her sentence and went on to become a political figure.
And Paani hopes to melt hearts and move minds with its tale of young love that is unwittingly drawn into this messy revolution. “It is the story of young love caught in the flurry of conflict and war between two cities, one that is rich and waterful and the other that is poor and waterless, where the water rats are forced steal that precious liquid”.