"The search is on for Mr Darcy, the male lead who will play opposite Aishwarya Rai," said Bend It like Beckham director Gurinder Chaddha at a press conference to announce the launch of her film Bride And Prejudice in Mumbai.
Chaddha wants an American actor to play Darcy, as she wants her film to be truly global. "We will have to get someone before March. I plan to release Bend It Like Beckham in the US then," she added.
Her interpretation of Jane Austen's 18th century novel Pride And Prejudice is one of many onscreen depictions of the movie. Only this time, the movie will have a Bollywood touch. "I have always liked Pride And Prejudice. It is one my favourite novels. I want to bring an Indian touch to this classic," she explained.
Filming is likely to begin in July in England. It will be released by late 2004. "The film will be set in Amritsar. We will also shoot in Mumbai and Goa. The rest of the shooting schedule is based in England and the US," added Chaddha.
Bollywood actresses Namrata Shirodkar and Meghana Kothari are slated to play Aishwarya's sisters. Their mother Mrs Bakshi (Mrs Bennett in the novel) will be played by Nadira Babbar.
"Bend It Like Beckham succeeded in India because everyone has some or the other member of one's family based abroad," Chaddha said. "So you can relate to such films. I am sure people can relate to this film too."
Anu Maliik will score the music, which has lyrics by Farhan Akhtar and his sister Zoya. "I approached Javed Akhtar for the lyrics, but he told me I should ask Farhan and Zoya because the songs are in English. I am very happy with the lyrics. There are seven songs; one will be in Punjabi."
Aishwarya hastened to add that signing this film was not her first move towards working in Hollywood, saying, "I have always signed films on my instinct. If I like the script and the director, I sign the film."
Quipped Chaddha, "I am sure she will be the next Bond girl -- and that too with brains."
Rai said she saw no reason why Indian actors would be uncomfortable with English. "When Latin Americans and others can act in Hollywood films and speak English, why can't Indian actors and actresses do so?" she asked.