"SHANTARAM is definitely on," director Mira Nair tells the Times of India

In a December 17th interview with The Times of India, director Mira Nair took the opportunity to set the record straight about her big-budget film for Warner Bros., SHANTARAM, starring Johnny Depp. SHANTARAM is not cancelled, she stresses; merely postponed because of the writers’ strike. Here are Mira’s comments to the Times:

Q: There are reports that your other ambitious project, SHANTARAM, with Johnny Depp and Amitabh Bachchan, has been shelved. What happened?

MIRA NAIR: It’s all untrue and I found it funny when reports said the film has been shelved because we couldn’t afford Johnny Depp. In fact, it was Johnny who came to me suggesting we make a film together and he’s the actual producer of the film. So, SHANTARAM is definitely on, but its on-hold at moment because of the on-going writers’ strike in Hollywood. We were supposed to get going on February 2, but now I guess it’ll take some more time to get started. [Note–in other interviews, Mira suggests a start date of fall 2008.]

Q: A lot of fans are excited about SHANTARAM , so can you tell us more about the project?

MIRA NAIR:Yeah, a lot of people have been pleased with the idea of seeing two mega stars together on screen. So now, in spite of all the problems, we’ve doubly resolved that no matter what, SHANTARAM will hit celluloid. Johnny will be playing Shantaram, who goes on to become an extra in Bollywood. We’re also making him do a Hindi number in the film, because Johnny has an amazing singing voice. There’s also an item song. Let me also clarify that Amitabh is still very committed to the film. We’ll be shooting the film in India and New Mexico.

You can read the full interview with Mira Nair, with details of her other film projects, on the Zone’s News & Views forum. –Part-Time Poet

"A must-see movie"–Ebert and Roeper, with guest critic Michael Phillips, give SWEENEY TODD a rave review

Nationally syndicated film critics Richard Roeper and Michael Phillips (filling in for an ailing Roger Ebert) gave rave reviews to Tim Burton’s film SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET in an “early review” on their television program this week. Both critics spoke especially enthusiastically of Johnny Depp’s performance as Sweeney Todd, the “gorgeous” production design, and Tim Burton’s direction. “Overall, this is a distinctive and haunting film,” said Phillips, “Burton’s best, certainly, since ED WOOD. Finally, someone has done justice to a Stephen Sondheim musical on screen.”

Roeper agreed with his colleague that the movie is “very well done.” Of Johnny’s performance, Roeper said, “I’m sure he’s going to get an Oscar nomination, and he may well win.” Roeper also saw much to admire in Alan Rickman’s performance as the villainous Judge Turpin, saying, “Alan Rickman does a terrific job in a supporting role.” Concludes Roeper, “SWEENEY TODD is one of the must-see movies of the holiday season.”

The Zone thanks Intodadepps for sharing the review; Zone members can watch it on the Video Clips forum. –Part-Time Poet