March 4, 2008

Mahesh Bhatt's Bhutto film hits a snag

According to this article in India's Financial Express, Benazir Bhutto's widower Asif Ali Zardari has refused approval to Mahesh Bhatt's proposed biopic about Bhutto, which (according to various stories) would have starred Shabana Azmi. Although Bhatt's film would have a been a co-production with a Pakistani production company, the article suggests that strong sentiments against having Bhutto's story told by an Indian filmmaker are at work here.

I don't think permission from the family is legally required to make a movie about a public figure such as Bhutto, but it likely is required for an adaptation of Bhutto's memoir, and at any rate would be useful for both practical and political reasons. So while this development doesn't spell the project's certain doom, it's definitely not a good sign.

The article also notes that Robert Redford has the right to produce a film about Benazir Bhutto, a fact which I'd also seen mentioned elsewhere; there is no reason that Shabana Azmi could not play Ms. Bhutto in a Hollywood production, and if that's the only Bhutto film that gets made I have to admit I would love to see Shabana ji get the part. I could see her winning an Academy Award for a role like that, just as I could see her picking up another National Award for an Indian-produced Bhutto biopic.

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