When Tina Turner visited temples in India to prepare for her role as Goddess Shakti

May 25, 2023 08:07 AM IST

‘Queen’ Tina Turner, who died on Wednesday at the age of 83, was once supposed to play Goddess Shakti in a film by Merchant Ivory.

Tina Turner, the American-born singer who become one of the top recording artists of all time, died on Wednesday at the age of 83. The ‘Queen of Rock and Roll’ died peacefully after a long illness in her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland, her representative said. Tina won eight Grammys in her long and successful career as a musician and also acted in some films. In 2004, she even came close to starring as Goddess Kali in a Merchant-Ivory film.

Tina Turner, the unstoppable singer and stage performer, died Tuesday, after a long illness at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland,(AP)
Tina Turner, the unstoppable singer and stage performer, died Tuesday, after a long illness at her home in Küsnacht near Zurich, Switzerland,(AP)

As per a report in The Juggernaut, Tina visited temples in India for inspiration for the role. She said about India to Madhu Jain, “But the more I saw here, the more I realized that there was something I could relate to. Take away all the cars and the bikes, take it all away and you are very close to a time in my own life.” The film was called The Goddess.

About the movie she had told Eastern Eye, “I was told about a year ago that Merchant Ivory were doing a film which had something to do with legends and goddesses, I said, yes, yes." “Everyone expects Tina Turner to come back with a new album, but I will give them this movie.”

The film, which was to also star Matthew Modine, dealt with the supernatural. It is about a goddess, Shakti, who has the power to manipulate the past, present and future. The film, set in ancient India, depicts the relationship of three Indians and a painter, played by Modine, with Goddess Shakti. To prepare for her role, Turner had taken a tour of India, visiting Varanasi, taking a trip across river Ganga, going to temples in South India and meeting actors, dancers and singers in the film industry, as per a 2010 HT report.

Merchant-Ivory said about Tina and the movie, “The film has such energy that only Tina could have played the lead role. I think she is natural; the greatest gift we have received in the world of music and dance. In real life, too, she’s a Goddess.” However, the film could never be made due to Ismail Merchant's sudden death after a surgery.

In 2010, there was again some chatter about the film getting revived. However, it soon died down.

Turner began her career in the 1950s during the early years of rock 'n' roll and evolved into an MTV phenomenon. In 1980s she landed a dozen songs in the Top 40, including "Typical Male," "The Best," "Private Dancer" and "Better Be Good to Me." Her 1988 show in Rio de Janeiro drew 180,000 people, which remains one of the largest concert audiences for any single performer.

She played the ruthless leader of an outpost in a nuclear wasteland, acting opposite Mel Gibson in the third instalment in the Mad Max franchise, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Actor Angela Bassett, who was nominated for an Academy Award for playing Turner in the 1993 film What's Love Got to Do with It, said she was "humbled to have helped show her to the world."

"She gave us her whole self," Bassett said in a statement. "Tina Turner is a gift that will always be 'simply the best.'"

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