Shah Rukh Khan to play Indian don in `Xtreme City`
Mumbai: If all goes well, Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan will be seen sharing screen space with his Hollywood counterpart Leonardo DiCaprio in a cross-cultural thriller `Xtreme City`, a tale about two men from radically different worlds.
SRK`s biographer (Still Reading Khan) and screenplay writer Mushtaq Sheikh has penned the script with Hollywood writer-director Paul Schrader, who will direct the movie.
American filmmaker Martin Scorsese has come on board as a producer with David Weisman for the movie, where SRK will essay the role of an underworld gangster while DiCaprio will be playing a New York cop.
Talking to reporters, Sheikh said `Xtreme City` is not in anyway a traditional gangster movie.
"Its a different kind of film, one where both Indian and American protagonists are balanced human beings and the story treats them in their full complexity without either culture being dimished or taken for granted. Its a cross-cultural thriller designed for both Bollywood and Hollywood. And if we get it right..this will be an attempt at true global entertainment," Sheikh said.
To a question on the title of the film, he said Paul Schrader titles have always been two-worded that express the script`s metaphor.. like Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, American Gigolo, Blue Collar, Hard CORE.
"This should have ideally been Maximum City but that was already taken courtesy the book. We needed another name..thats when Paul decided on Xtreme City because majority of the film is based in Mumbai and no other word catches the enigma of the city like Xtreme City. After all Mumbai is a city of extreme `extremes`!!!," he said. Sheikh said the idea of this project was born last year when SRK met Weisman, Scorsese, Schrader and DiCaprio at the Berlin International Film Festival.
He said `Xtreme City` is the story of two men from radically different worlds, one an Indian and the other American. Both served in the UN peacekeeping force in Somalia during the 1990s. The American saves the Indian`s life then brings him home, in the aftermath they became indebted to each other.. then go their own separate ways.
"The American becomes a cop in New York, the Indian a bhai in Mumbai. Many years later, the American has a burdensome family obligation, which compels him to return to India to seek help from the Indian comrade whose life he had saved..but becomes deeper and deeper drawn into an alien world," Sheikh said.
The scriptwriter said `Xtreme City` deals with a promise that was given between two men of different cultures and how the sense of duty can transcend everything.
"The story has a very emotional essence. In the end, the two protagonists come to understand each other as they never anticipated might be possible," he added.
According to Sheikh, the film dwells on the gritty realities and obstacles they encounter along the path of their voyage of growth. It is also about "farz" or duty towards each other which bound them together in the first place. "This is a pre-dominantly desi concept that to my knowledge has never been played out before on the screen, in true emotional terms, between an Indian and a foreigner, certainly never been attempted on a top tier international icon star level," Shiekh pointed out.
He said he was roped in to co-write the film by Weisman and Schrader while in Berlin. "During our interactions, we became a desi-american family. I am delighted and at the same time awestruck by this because they accept with such graciousness and eagerness all the criticism I have to offer whenever something arises that is foreign to the Hindustani sensibility," he added.
Shiekh said after the Berlin meeting, both SRK and Martin had very busy years filled with previous work commitments. Shah Rukh got busy with Ra.one and Don 2, Martin with his 3D film Hugo Cabret which kept him busy in London from Last May till late January this year.
"As he became free, Martin re-read the script and got in touch with us here about working together. As of now, the script is done (ready and bound)..the director is all set for the film and the producer is on board. The rest only time and destiny will unfold! ", Shiekh said.
He was tight lipped about finalising the rest of the cast.