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ModiCorp's Hollywood foray
Bhuvan Lall
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August 25, 2005

Earlier this year at Cannes, the biggest Hollywood announcement came from a rather unusual source: ModiCorp founder-chairman Bhupendra Kumar Modi.

On the balcony of the Elton John Suite at the Carlton Hotel overlooking the Mediterranean, Modi quietly announced his plans to produce the $120 million film on the life of Gautam Buddha under the banner of Mcorp Global.

A self-styled 'devout futurist', Modi owns the 1.2 billion ModiCorp, which has interests in infotech, document processing, telecommunications, cellular telephony and Internet services.

He is also chairman of HinduNet Inc and head of the Maha Bodhi Society of India. He has authored books on Hinduism including The Universal Truth to Performance: A Manager's Challenge, which has earned him awards like the British-Japan Friendship Association Award for World Peace and the Escorts Book Award.

As founder-chairman of ModiCorp, Modi has several business firsts to his name. Now, he becomes the first Indian industrialist to enter Hollywood.

Committed to the cause of making a Hollywood film, Modi has actually relocated to Beverly Hills and opened an office for his new production vehicle, Buddha Films.

"I have wanted to make a film on Buddha for the last 17 years," says Modi. Meanwhile Shekhar Kapur approached him to make a commercial Hollywood film on Buddha. The duo then sought the blessings of the Dalai Lama.

Modi says that the Dalai Lama not only provided valuable suggestions for the script but has also asked his famous Hollywood disciples to assist the project. Motivational guru Deepak Chopra is writing the script while Patrick De Bokay is the executive producer and Pascal Borno its international sales consultant.

The life of Buddha was a popular theme among Indian filmmakers of the silent era. But in more recent times, for all the drama and narrative force inherent in the saga, Prince Siddhartha's attainment of enlightenment has never been recorded on the big screen.

"The film being produced by MCorp Global aims to be an honest and authentic portrayal of the life of the Buddha through his childhood as Siddhartha, as a monk and as Tathagat, after he attained enlightenment," says Modi.

"The lead role would be played by a global actor while the female lead would go to an Indian," adds Modi, tantalisingly not ruling out either former Miss Indias Aishwarya Rai or Priyanka Chopra as probables for the role of Buddha's wife.

Primarily targeted at the 15-25 age group, the film will be shot in the US, Japan, China, Thailand and India. According to Modi the movie would project India's image as Lord Buddha's country.

"The high point of the movie would be that it would be dubbed in several languages," he says. The film is tentatively scheduled for release in 2006, to coincide with the 2,550th birth anniversary of the founder of Buddhism.

The writer is the president and CEO of Lall Entertainment

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