Bollywood to make film in Holy Land
A Bollywood movie about the childhood of Jesus is to be shot in the Holy Land, Indian filmmakers have announced.
Director Singeetham Srinivasa Rao said his production will be narrated in four languages and feature an all-Indian cast of child actors and seven devotional songs.
South Indian star Pawan Kalyan will narrate the Telugu and Malayalam versions.
Producer Konda Krishnam Raju said that the film focuses on the childhood of Jesus, a contrast with other movies that depict the later years. "This is the first presentation of this type in Bollywood history," he said.
While the movie has special significance for Christians, it is "intended for a global audience," Rao said.
There are 24 million Christians in India, about 2.3% of the population.
Religious Indian films have traditionally used child actors to highlight the "innocence, sanctity and divinity" of religious figures, the director said. Rao's film will follow that tradition, using the child actors to depict adult characters as well as children.
American makeup artist Christien Tinsley will use special techniques to make the actors appear older. The filmmakers said they chose him because of his work with The Passion of the Christ, which earned him an Oscar nomination. That movie, directed by Mel Gibson, won critical acclaim but also evoked charges of anti-Jewish bias and legitimising anti-Semitism.
At 30 million dollars, the filmmakers say, the film about Jesus will be one of India's highest budget movies. An average Indian movie costs about 500,000 dollars.