Ben Kingsley woos Bollywood star for "Taj" dream

Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:17pm EST
 
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PANAJI, Goa (Reuters Life!) - British actor Ben Kingsley, whose portrayal of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi in 1982 won him an Oscar, has his sights set on another Indian story -- and a Bollywood heroine.

Kingsley is trying to raise finances to make a film titled "Taj" about Shah Jahan, the Mogul emperor and his quest to build the Taj Mahal in memory of his third and favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal, who died giving birth to their 14th child.

Kingsley said he is hoping Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the former Miss World and wife of Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan, will play the role of Mumtaz Mahal.

"My wife (Brazilian actress Daniela Barbosa de Carneiro) is going to be in the film. She will play Shah Jahan's first wife, Kandhari Begum," Kingsley told Reuters Television.

"We are hoping very much ... Aishwarya approves this script and loves it."

But Kingsley, 65, said the project was not yet set in stone as he still has to secure finances for the film's production.

"I have to attract investors to make this film possible. At the moment, it's not fully financed by any means," he said.

"I know there is a great interest in the project and I am very much hoping, although my windows of opportunity is quite small... we do have the script and it's beautiful."

The film would be produced by Kingsley's production company, SBK Pictures, and shot around the area of the Taj Mahal that was built in Agra in northern India between 1632 and 1653. The film is expected to be released in 2011.

Kingsley is in India's western Panaji to attend the International Film Festival of India 2009.

(Reporting by Reuters Television, editing by Miral Fahmy)