Shekhar Kapur is in New York for an unexpected project. He is to direct a movie that the acclaimed British director, Anthony Minghella of The English Patient fame, was making before his death last week.
"It's a part of a series of short films entitled, New York, I Love You, from the same producers who produced Paris Je T'Aime (which had Gurinder Chaddha in its bouquet of directors). I wasn't supposed to do it at all. But Anthony, who was doing one, called me one day and said, 'I'm not doing it. I'm ill. You do it'," Shekhar Kapur said.
Kapur said he had thought that Minghella would recover and complete the movie.
"Anthony went to the operating table, but did not return. He was 51 and it was not an age to die. 'The English Patient' was truly a marvellous piece of cinema. Now, it is my duty to do Minghella's film," the director said.
Shekhar faces the challenge of recreating Minghlella's script as faithfully as the director wanted. "Anthony has written the script. I've never done this before, enter the creative zone occupied by another man. Fortunately, I had a long conversation with him before he went to the hospital. I'll go completely by his vision. The series has a lot of directors shooting love stories in New York. Mira Nair is also doing one."
With Shekhar replacing Minghella in New York, I love You, the series has the singular honour of having two Indian directors in its bouquet. Other directors include Fatih Akin, Wen Jiang, Brett Ratner, Scarlett Johannson and Natalie Portman.
Anthony Minghella's son Max Minghella was supposed to star in his father's film. But Shekhar now has to re-cast the characters. "Max can't do it. I'll have to look for another actor. I'm now going to have a conversation with Anthony's wife to further understand what provoked Anthony into making this film. I wish I had spoken more to him before he died."
Shekhar will begin shooting for Minghella's script in New York in the first week of April.