One man made Robert De Niro come up with a career defining act in Taxi Driver. Another made Shah Rukh Khan go over the top as never before in Om Shanti Om. And now both creative artists would be joining hands with each other to bridge the gap between Hollywood and Bollywood through Xtrme City [yes, that’s the way the film is pronounced]! The men in question? Paul Schrader and Mushtaq Shiekh.
The project has already been commissioned and is a co-production of Hollywood’s David Weisman (Kiss of the Spider Woman) and Bollywood’s own Anubhav Sinha (Dus). While the project was in news a few months, it is now pretty much rolling with the top actors (from both Hollywood and Bollywood) soon to be finalised.
Says a source closely attached to the film, “This groundbreaking production will showcase a Bollywood mega-star and a Hollywood movie-star sharing top billing in a major motion picture. The film is destined for both the subcontinent and international markets. In fact, Xtrme City is already in the process of casting the two star leads. The film is being budgeted at about $10 million.”
Schrader, who has directed 18 films, has previously worked in Japan, Italy, Romania, Israel and Morocco. “I hadn’t thought about working in India”, he says, “However, now I see Bollywood as the next great frontier. The film is a cross-cultural entertainment that merges the cinematic traditions of Bollywood and Hollywood. I am indeed excited to make a film which is accessible and meaningful to both Indian and American cultures.”
In fact Mushtaq Shiekh would also be joining the team as Indian producer. A former journalist turned Bollywood screenwriter and prime-time Indian-TV show-runner, he has earlier authored bestselling biographies for Shah Rukh Khan like ‘SRK: Still Reading Khan’ and ‘Shah Rukh Can’. He has also written books like ‘The Making of Asoka’, ‘Devdas – The Indian Hamlet’ and ‘The Making of Om Shanti Om’. Of course his claim to fame are screenwriting credits for Om Shanti Om, Billu and Shah Rukh’s under production Ra – One.
“Working on Xtrme City with a master screenwriter like Paul Schrader has been exhilarating and a marvellous illumination for me,” says Shiekh. “He is tireless. We kept at it until achieving a perfect emotional balance for our story. We wanted to reveal the best of each world in surprising, entertaining, inspiring ways. That’s what I like about Paul’s screenplay. Ours is a film that never takes either culture for granted.”
David Weisman had travelled to India twice with Schrader during July and October of 2008. The two return to India next month for the 11th Mumbai Film Festival, where Schrader will be honoured and serve on the jury.
Adds the source, “The film is aiming for a late 2010 shoot in Mumbai, New York and the Persian Gulf. The makers are hoping for a 2011 release. As with many Bollywood films, Xtrme City will integrate thriller, drama and comedy elements. The movie will be family-friendly though there would certainly be elements of violence. However, sex will be downplayed, though there would be quintessential song and dance routines.”
About Xtrme City:
Xtrme City is an action thriller set in the brutal, impenetrable, criminal orbit of Mumbai, India. Curtis Hawkley, a former U.S. Ranger, is obliged to return to Mumbai when his father-in-law’s youngest daughter is kidnapped by a powerful underworld Don. In order to save the girl he must first find his old friend Raj Rangan, an Indian Special Forces Commando who became a crime world enforcer. After reuniting and saving the girl, the two men are drawn deeper into the “bhai” underworld of Mumbai than they expected. Sense of duty compels them to take on a system of corruption, revenge, and familial obligations.