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Flying without wings

Filmmaker Mira Nair on Amelia, the Broadway version of Monsoon Wedding and more.

entertainment Updated: Mar 13, 2010 01:35 IST
Rajesh Ahuja

Mira Nair

She’s used to flying high, but this time, filmmaker Mira Nair chose A-list on-board company for herself. She now hopes her latest film,


, featuring Hollywood stars Hilary Swank, Richard Gere and Ewan McGregor, “flies” in India.

Based on the life of American aviator Amelia Earhart, who Nair describes as “crazy yet sensible”, the biopic took months to shape up. “Making a film on an icon is both a challenge and a burden. It wasn’t like adapting a book into a film; there was a lot of research involved,” she says.

The multi-award winning director of films such as

The Namesake, Monsoon Wedding


Salaam Bombay

says Swank asked her to direct the film. “And I loved that! Hilary’s a spiritual actor, someone who embodies the character from within,” says Nair.

She calls McGregor “

apna banda

” (my man) and Gere “an excellent human being”, but says she doesn’t even think of casting foreign actors while making her (Indian) kind of films. But, she does have a wishlist: “I’d love to work with Robert Downey Jr and Marion Cotillard. And of course, whenever Johnny [Depp] is ready.”

There’s no movement on that front yet.


, the ambitious project Depp’s producing, will happen when it has to, says Nair. For now, she’s busy scripting the Broadway adaptation of

Monsoon Wedding

, with writer Sabrina Dhawan.

“The process is painstaking but brilliant. Vishal Bhardwaj will compose 12 new songs while we plan to retain a few themes composer Mychael Danna made for the film. The shoot begins this fall and a few original cast members will be a part of it. David Rockwell, who designs the Oscars show, will do up the sets,” she reveals.

Nair, who’s also working on the film adaptation of author Mohsin Hamid’s Reluctant Fundamentalist, was recently named one of the most influential female media executives in South Asia. On that and filmmaker Kathryn Bigelow clinching the Best Director Oscar, she says, “A woman director has the heart of a poet and skin of an elephant. But I wonder, why are there only a few of us.” So do we.