Bollywood Comes to Jerusalem

J. K. Bharavi, Singeetam Srinivasa Rao, Konda Krishnamraju and Pawan Kalyan in Jerusalem/Photo courtesy of PR

Tollywood star Pawan Kalyan, Director Singeetam Srinivasa Rao, Producer Konda Krishnamraju and writer J. K. Bharavi have a message for the world. In a press conference held today, Rao announced plans to begin shooting the first Indian representation of the life of Jesus Christ on location in Israel in October.

While the life of Jesus might appear to be a surprising choice for an Indian film, Kalyan said, “We found in all the world there is only one religion: the religion of love. That is what we are trying to present.”

In an unusual move, they have chosen to cast the film almost entirely with child actors, to convey the “innocence, sanctity and divinity” says Rao. One notable exception is star Pawan Kalyan, whose role in the film remains a secret. Kalyan fielded questions from journalists in several locations this afternoon, as the press conference was held simultaneously in Jerusalem, Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta, Hyderabad, Chenai, Banguluru and Cochin.

With a projected budget of $30 million, the film will be shot in different locations including Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Jericho and the Galilee. It is expected to be 145 minutes long and scheduled for release in 2011. The film will be produced in different versions- English, Hindi, Telugu and Malayalam – with a separate cast for each language. Kalyan will be performing in the Malayalam and Telugu versions, with other actors performing the part in the English and Hindi versions.

The film team has been touring Israel since Friday and have been “very happy” with their reception here, said Producer Konda Krishnamraju, who said that this is “an auspicious place to shoot the film, in the place where Jesus lived.” In keeping with the serious nature of the subject, the film will eschew the song and dance scenes associated with Bollywood, but will include devotional songs. Director Rao said, “Wherever in the world that there is conflict, pain and war, even in our own country, wherever there is no peace, we would like to take the message of peace and love.”