Financier Dr. BK Modi and director Ashutosh Gowariker have announced that they’ve placed pre-production of their big-budget biopic Buddha on hold as they haven’t been able to find the right face to play the young Buddha.
Scripted by David S. Ward, the film focuses on the life of Prince Siddhartha Gautama during his young adulthood until the age of 35 when he achieved enlightenment and became the Buddha. Gowariker launched a global online audition back in April to find a fresh face to play the role.
The film is backed by Modi’s Singapore-based Spice Studios and was scheduled to start shooting in India in the first week of September.
“We feel the need to expand the search, as we know there is someone out there that would be perfect for this role, we have just not found him yet,” said executive producer Bhuvan Lall in a statement. “We are still passionate about this project and are determined to get into production this year. But not without Buddha.”
The project has already been in pre-production for several months. Elaborate sets have been built at Nitin Desai Studios outside Mumbai and a top-flight crew had been assembled including DoP Karl Walter Lindenlaub (Independence Day), production designer Nitin Chandrakant (Devdas) and costume designer April Ferry (Rome).
Local film industry sources say the producers now want an established name to play the role of Buddha and the script is out to Bollywood stars.
The project has had a long development history. Its current incarnation based on the David S. Ward script was announced at Cannes in 2006 with a budget of $120m, although that has since been revised downwards to around $35m.