The much hyped Hollywood movie Indian Summer being produced by Universal Studios has been put on the backburner, at least for now. Indian Summer is a story of the alleged relation between Edwina Mountbatten (wife of last Viceroy of British ruled India, Lord Mountbatten) and the first Indian prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. The film is based on Alex Von Tunzel-Mann’s book – Indian Summer, The Secret History of the End of Empire.
Variety magazine reported that the movie which was planned to be shot in India starting early 2010 has now been put on hold by Universal Studios due to two main reasons. The first being differences in the budget being granted by the production house and actual estimates by the director Helmer Joe Wright who is now believed to be waiting for better market situations to emerge. Universal had approved a budget of under 30 million while the actual being projected are between USD 30-40 million.
The second reason behind the decision was the logistic issues of filming a major production in India. Further the creative differences over how much to emphasize the alleged love affair between the two historic figures also seems to have become a bottleneck.
“We were in between a rock and a hard place,” Wright said. “The Indian government wanted us to make less of the love story while the studio wanted us to make more of the love story.”
Meanwhile Nehru’s niece Nayantara Sahgal in an interview said that the relation between two was purely platonic. Lady Pamela Mountbatten, daughter of Earl Mountbatten in an interview to CNN-IBN (which was published in Indian daily The Hindu) had also voiced similar sentiments and termed the relation “platonic” while confessing that Edwina had other affairs.
In the first interview given by any member of the Mountbatten family on the relationship between Lady Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, Lady Pamela Hicks, Earl Mountbatten’s youngest daughter, has said she does not believe Nehru and Lady Mountbatten had a sexual relationship but added “maybe everybody will think I’m being very naïve.”
Some Indian directors also seem skeptical to take up the project given the controversy around the subject. While individuals and govt. deliberate on what and how to show an Indian director already seems to be pitching in to take up the role of filming the saga.
Director Onir, however, wouldn’t mind attempting such a subject should a producer be game. “I’ve dealt with films that explore uncomfortable areas. It’s important that such a film is made in India,” says Onir, adding, “Unfortunately, our fraternity doesn’t have the artistic freedom. I shudder to think that a director has to apologise before for using the word Bombay and not Mumbai in his film. I don’t mind exploring the relationship between Nehru-Edwina. If someone approaches me with the right budget, I wouldn’t mind doing a film on this issue!”
British daily The Telegraph meanwhile reported that the Indian govt. had approved the script sans the intimate scenes and the reasons for shelving the movie is simply financial. Foreign movies shot in india need approval of a vetting committee.
All foreign films shot in India must be approved by a vetting committee which screens the script to make sure “nothing detrimental to the image of India or the Indian people is shot or included in the film”.