Indian megastar Aishwarya Rai is to star in Pride And Prejudice - The Bollywood Musical, the all-singing, all-dancing take on Jane Austen's novel from Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha
Chadha confirmed that Rai, best known outside India for Cannes title Devdas and winning Miss World, has agreed in principle to star in the production, which is to shoot next summer for UK-based National Lottery franchise Pathe Pictures. Pathe will handle international sales and UK distribution.
Set in the US, India and the UK, the English-language film will update the novel, in which Darcy is a wealthy American staying in England. Romance - and a series of spectacular 200-violin musical sequences - kick off when he attends a friend's wedding in a small town in India.
"It's not going to be a parody of Bollywood musicals, " Chadha told screendaily.com "It's going to be affectionate. I grew up with a lot of these films."
The director has enlisted some of India's leading film musicians: the lyrics are by the famous Akhtar family and music is by Anu Malik, India's most prominent composer.
She is tweaking some Bollywood conventions - lyrics will be linked to the dialogue rather than simply bursting into the story. She also refuses to rule out parting with the Bollywood tradition by which the lead actors do not sing themselves.
"Ash said that she would be willing to give it go as the film is fairly unconventional," Chadha said.
Chadha also confirmed that she has assembled a group of investors from the Indian film world to invest in her future projects in exchange for a share of worldwide revenues and Indian distribution. The director's profile has soared in India following Bend It Like Beckham, which she estimates has beaten its UK performance in terms of admissions.