"Johnny Depp felt SHANTARAM was in secure hands": An interview with director Mira Nair

In an interview with Subhash K. Jha of the Mumbai Mirror, Mira Nair discussed her excitement at being chosen to direct SHANTARAM and her plans for the film, which begins shooting in November. “Yes, I’m very charged about it. When in June 2006 Peter Weir left the project, [. . .]Warner Brothers [. . .] called me. It’s a very big project. Not like you make a phone call and you get SHANTARAM. They sent me the script in confidence and warned me that other directors were being considered.” While the producers requested a private screening of Nair’s most recent film, THE NAMESAKE, she immersed herself in Gregory David Roberts’ novel. “SHANTARAM is set in the 1980s’ Mumbai at a time when I was in the city,” Nair explained, “I knew it thoroughly.”

Armed with her firsthand knowledge of the city and its culture, Nair could transmit her vision of SHANTARAM to the producers. “Authenticity is very important to SHANTARAM,” Nair said. “I guess it was my love for Mumbai city, my knowledge of the script and their fondness for my work that clinched the matter. And of course,” she added, “Johnny Depp felt SHANTARAM was in secure hands.”

Asked to elaborate on the film’s star, Nair replied, “How’s Johnny Depp? Oh, for all stratospheric box-office status he’s a humble soul. He’s generally inquisitive about the world.” She is pleased to have cast Indian star Amitabh Bachchan in his first Hollywood project; he will play Kaderbhai, the Mumbai gangster who becomes a mentor and surrogate father to Johnny’s character of Lin. Predicted Nair, “Amitabh Bachchan and Johnny Depp will be very good together. “

The Zone thanks Emma for the interview with Mira Nair; you can read it in its entirety on the Zone’s News & Views forum, as well as a companion story on the casting of Amitabh Bachchan. –Part-Time Poet