By Natalia Ningthoujam
New Delhi, Jan 25 (IANS) Indian-origin producer Anant Singh, who is based in South Africa, hopes his Oscar-nominated biopic “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” on the anti-apartheid icon will inspire Indian moviegoers.
Made for $35 million (Rs.219 crore), the film enjoyed record-breaking success in South Africa and has till now earned over 22 million rand ($2 million/Rs.12 crore).
“The film has performed well in the United Kingdom where it was released two weeks ago. As Indians have displayed a special affinity for Nelson Mandela, the freedom of our people and our country, I am hopeful that the Indian film-going audience will embrace the film and be inspired by it,” Anant Singh told IANS in an email interaction from Durban.
The film, which has won this year’s Oscar nomination for best original song – for “Ordinary love’ by U2 – has done well in South Africa.
“In South Africa, the film has emerged as the highest grossing biopic and grossed over 22 million rand,” Anant Singh said.
“It has outgrossed the entire run of the multiple Oscar-winning biopics ‘The King’s Speech’, ‘The Iron Lady’, ‘Lincoln’, ‘Schindler’s List’, ‘A Beautiful Mind’, ‘Ray’, and ‘Gandhi’.
“Also, it has outpaced Oscar winners ‘Walk The Line’, ‘Evita’ and ‘Elizabeth’ and multiple Oscar nominees ‘Ali’ and has earned twice as much as ‘Invictus’,” added the producer, who had co-produced the Shyam Benegal-directed film “The Making Of The Mahatma” (1996).
Directed by Justin Chadwick, “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” showcases the icon’s life as a lawyer, anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician-cum-activist who was elected the president of South Africa in 1994.
The movie, which stars Idris Elba in the title role and Naomie Harris as his wife Winnie, hit the Indian screens Friday.
The producer, who has made about 80 films, first visited India in the early 1990s to present some of his films at the International Film Festival of India.
“I have been able to develop strong relationships with people in the film industry as well as in business and government; among them are (Bollywood megastar) Amitabh Bachchan, (choreographer) Shiamak Davar, and a host of others,” said Anant Singh, whose great grandfather moved to South Africa from India in 1877.
Amitabh had also shown support to the Indian premiere of “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom” held in Mumbai recently.
It took almost two decades for the film to be made, but Anant Singh’s chest is swollen with pride.
“Making an independent film, with a $35 million budget is very challenging. I promised Mr. Mandela that I will make the film to the best of my ability and that it may take a while. The film had to tell his story well,” he said.
Anant Singh wanted to make the film when everything – script, team et al – was in place and when he was confident that he “could do justice to his story”.
“All of these elements came together in 2011 and here we are today. I am extremely proud of how the film has turned out. I had developed a personal relationship with Mr. Mandela after his release from prison, and I was humbled when he chose me to be the custodian of the film rights of his autobiography. With it came great responsibility,” he added.
(Natalia Ningthoujam can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)