Kabir Khan’s last two films – Phantom and Tubelight – might not have worked at the box office. But there’s no doubt that he’s one of the most sought-after filmmakers at present. He has proved his worth with other films like New York, Ek Tha Tiger and Bajrangi Bhaijaan, the last two being commercial blockbusters. Also, he mixes current affairs and politics in his films with entertainment seamlessly, giving audiences a product that’s sensible yet massy. He is already working on the much awaited sports drama ’83, and now he has managed to bag another exciting film, which will be an Indo-Chinese production.
At the 9th Beijing International Film Festival held in April last month, Kabir was one of the guests of honours from Bollywood along with superstar Shah Rukh Khan. He attended the ‘China-India Film Co-Production Dialogue’ and later, it came to light through a press conference that he’ll be making a film titled The Zookeeper. It is a comedy and a co-production between an Indian production house and E Star, the distributor known for introducing Indian films to the Chinese film market.
Readers will recall that an announcement of the same film was also done way back in 2017. At that time, it was Eros International which was to co-produce this flick along with China’s Peacock Mountain Culture & Media. It was also reported then that The Zookeeper will have a male superstar from India and a leading actress from China, with major portions of the film being shot in the capital of Sichuan province, Chengdu.
The Zookeeper’s plot is also very interesting and could make for a great entertainer. As per the information given out, The Zookeeper is a story of an animal breeder living in a remote village in India. The zoo industry is on a decline and he wants to find a way to revive people’s interest. This is when he secures a contact of a panda breeder in China. Realizing that pandas can turn into a star attraction in his zoo and thereby increase footfalls, he embarks on a journey to China.
What’s interesting is that as per the new announcement, The Zookeeper makers are eyeing a 2020 Chinese New Year release, that is, January 25 next year. This raised eyebrows since the said date is just 8 months away and to put together such a grand film in such short film is impossible. Not to forget, Kabir Khan is busy working on ’83, starring Ranveer Singh. It goes on floor on June 5 in Glasgow and is to hit screens on April 10, 2020. So for Kabir to make The Zookeeper simultaneously along with ’83 and then release the former before the latter is quite difficult to digest.
When contacted, Kabir Khan confirmed that The Zookeeper is in the pipeline. He says, “We are working on it. As and when things are finalized, we’ll announce it (formally).” As for whether it’ll release in January, he asserts, “It is going to be one of the big films but it’s too early to be talking about release dates right now until we go into production. We are still working on the script and the screenplay. So nothing is finalized, not even the casting.”
The press conference of the 9th Beijing International Film Festival where The Zookeeper was announced was the same event where the Chinese remake of Aamir Khan’s 2007 classic Taare Zameen Par was also unveiled. The third and final film announced was The Jewel Thief. It is not a remake of the Dev Anand starrer of the same and will be a fresh script. As per reports, it will be helmed by Bang Bang director Siddharth Anand. He was unavailable for comment.