Pathe UK's white-hot Bollywood musical version of Pride And Prejudice has finally found its Darcy.
Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha has cast rising New Zealand star Martin Henderson (pictured), who played opposite Naomi Watts in The Ring, to appear alongside Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai.
Pathe is likely to fly Henderson into Cannes next month to start the publicity machine rolling on the all-singing, all-dancing take on Jane Austen's novel, which has several distributors chasing it. Rai, a former Miss World best known outside India for Devdas, is also expected to make a splash on the Croisette as a jury member.
With musicals enjoying a revival after Miramax Films' Chicago, Pride And Prejudice: The Bollywood Musical is generating additional heat as Fox Searchlight's North American campaign on Bend It Like Beckham gathers impressive momentum.
In week four, the hit football comedy was on a modest 117 cinemas but, with a site average of more than $10,000, was as high as number 16 in the chart.
Henderson, one of the hottest young actors currently breaking in the US after The Ring became a smash hit, has just wrapped Warner Bros' motorcycle action movie Torque.
As Darcy, he plays a rich and seemingly arrogant American student living in London who goes to India for his friend's wedding. He meets Rai's spirited Lalita at the wedding and, as they fall in love, the story moves from India, to Los Angeles, to London.
Chadha has enlisted leading Bollywood composer Anu Malik and top lyricists the Akhtar family for the spectacular musical sequences. Production is to begin in summer, with Pathe distributing the film in the UK and handling international sales.
The director is tweaking some Bollywood conventions - lyrics will be linked to the dialogue rather than simply bursting into the story. Also parting with Bollywood tradition, some of the lead actors may do they own singing.
"It's not going to be a parody of Bollywood musicals, "Chadha recently told screendaily.com "It's going to be affectionate. I grew up with a lot of these films."