Mira Nair watched director Onir’s four-part film, I Am, in New York recently. And at the end of the screening, the internationally acclaimed producer-director was so impressed that she offered her unconditional support to the young filmmaker. "It’s very encouraging, Mira has a lot of experience and I’m sure with her guidance on distribution and exhibition, I will be able to reach the mainstream art house theatres in the US and Europe, thereby not limiting my audience to the Indian diaspora."
Nair particularly loved the episode, I Am Omar and privately admitted to Onir that she had been toying with the idea of making a movie on the same subject.
Not so gay
Featuring actors Rahul Bose, Arjun Mathur and Abhimanyu Singh, I Am Omar reveals the nexus between the police and male sex workers who blackmail and abuse gay men. An archaic British law under article 377 criminalises homosexuality. A man caught in a homosexual act can be imprisoned for life. The cops use this legal loophole to harass and extort money from these men.
Onir is currently in the process of finalising his distribution partners and working out release strategies for I Am. “We need to be very careful about promotion, given the controversial nature of the film,” he points out. He is looking at a September release.
Next, the director will revisit an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Wasn’t he planning a similar film a couple of years ago with Hrithik Roshan in the lead? “I don’t know how that rumour started when I hadn’t even met Hrithik. Yes, someone did suggest his name and I said it was a great idea. That’s it!” says Onir.
“I can’t talk about casting now, since I may need to make certain changes to the screenplay first. It’s too early to discuss names anyway. If things don’t work out with one actor, it would only make the other one I approach more apprehensive.” His Hamlet will be set in an urban set-up, unlike Omkara, Vishal Bhardwaj’s desi Othello, which was set in Central India’s political milieu. “Vishal knows UP, Bihar and Central India very well. I’m more at home in the cities,” Onir reasons.