Yet another foreign director has set his sights on Mumbai's slums. After Danny Boyle's dark and passionate look at the city in Slumdog Millionaire, it is American director Paul Schrader's turn to make a film here.
Schrader is set to direct Extreme City, a Mumbai-based underworld drama. Produced by Anubhav Sinha, the film will be shot in and around the slums of Dharavi and will star both Hollywood and Bollywood stars.
"I can't deny there's tremendous interest in another Mumbai slum saga after Slumdog Millionaire. But our project was firmed in much before Danny's film released," Sinha, who had a hush-hush meeting with the director-producer, told IANS.
Mumbai, already under much global scrutiny after Slumdog Millionaire, is expected to get a further touristic boost with Schrader's film.
"To have Schrader agree to make a film for me is a dream come true. Paul came down to India first in July. When I suggested he make a film for me, he was surprised. Paul Schrader making a film for an Indian producer does sound strange, doesn't it?
"He didn't give an immediate answer. But at the Toronto Film Festival in October 2008 he finally agreed. He's writing and directing a drama-thriller tentatively titled 'Extreme City' for me. We've otherwise been interacting for two years," said Sinha, who has directed films like Cash (2007) Dus (2005) Tum Bin (2001).
Schrader's scriptural collaborations with Martin Scorsese for movies like Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and his hugely influential directorial projects like American Gigolo, Cat People, Mishima and Hardcore have made an impact on several filmmakers.
Schrader's last directorial venture Adam Resurrected featuring Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe was a critical and commercial success.
Extreme City will be shot largely in Mumbai and Schrader will soon finalise his script for the film.
"Paul has started work on the script. It'll be an English-language film. But the Indian characters will speak their natural language. The Mumbai underworld is familiar to Hindi film-goers but not to a global audience," said Sinha.
Talking about foreign filmmakers new-found interest in Mumbai, Sinha said: "It started when Mira Nair announced Shantaram. Now Slumdog Millionaire has patented Mumbai across the Mumbai. Extreme City will talk about the mafia in detail. We've seen the Sicillian and Brazilian mafia in Hollywood. But not the Mumbai underworld."
Schrader, in fact, visited Dharavi with Sinha's assistant during his last visit.
"The film will have a swarm of characters. It will star one leading Hollywood and one Bollywood male star," said Sinha.
"I started my collaboration with Paul Schrader as a fan. In fact, the paper on which he wrote the plot outline, I asked him to sign so I could keep as memento. We're now collaborators," Sinha gushed.