Kingsley to play Shah Jahan with Aishwarya as Mumtaz

Kingsley to play Shah Jahan with Aishwarya as Mumtaz

Panaji: Twenty-seven years after his Oscar-winning portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi, Hollywood veteran Ben Kingsley is back in India with plans to play Mughal emperor Shah Jahan with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as Mumtaz Mahal in the epic love story Taj.

The 65-year-old actor will essay the role of Shah Jahan in the period romance with Aishwarya, 34, will play the beloved wife of the emperor. Kingsley last worked with Aishwarya in The Last Legion in 2007.

Kingsley said that his actress wife Daniela Barbosa de Carneiro will play Shah Jahan’s first wife Kandahari Begum, who was pushed to the background.

Aishwarya said, “During the shooting of the The Last Legion (Kingsley) had shared the idea with me. I have just received the draft of the script and now we are planning to take it forward."

Kingsley said the focus of the story would be the building of “Taj Mahal" and after it is finished, the isolation and the loneliness of the man (Shah Jahan), who built it.

“All of this is held together by love and the power of love, which transcends the prison cell and even death," Kingsley said.

The actor plans to start shooting in India from the autumn of 2010. “I am looking for Indian producers and finances for the film," he said.

Kingsley said that his film is a tribute to India’s culture and heritage.

“The film is a salute to the culture which draws its nourishment from its ancient heritage, its belief systems, its morality, mythology and ethics. Filming is a very modern way of telling stories," the actor said.

“The growth that India is enjoying at the moment probably has its roots in the ancient culture which helps to balance extreme modernity and ancient heritage. It is your gift to the world. The thread which tied me with this country since Gandhi is not snapped. It is as strong as ever," he added.

But before Taj, the actor will be seen sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan in Teen Patti.

Talking about the film, Kingsley said his agent in Los Angeles called him to say that Indian producers had sent him a script and all his scenes were to be shot in a single schedule in England.

The actor said that he immediately agreed to be a part of the project when he was informed that he will be working with Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan.

“I play a mathematician who blesses Venkat’s (Amitabh) journey and reassures him that knowledge is great. I have a cameo in the film but it is spread through out the film because you will see glimpses of me till the end," he said.