Shekhar Kapur has not, since his breakthrough with “Bandit Queen” in 1994, been Mr. Prolific. The Indian-born director made four films prior to that, but despite the Oscar-nominated success of “Elizabeth,” his western debut, he’s only made two films since, both poorly received historical epics, in “The Four Feathers” and the sequel “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.“
Principally, it’s because he’s spent much of that time trying to get his dream project “Paani” made, while other films, like the Mandela biopic “Long Walk to Freedom,” fantasy novel “Larklight” and sci-fi classic “Foundation” have come and gone over time. It’s now three years since we’ve seen anything from Kapur (namely a segment of anthology flick “New York, I Love You“), but the filmmaker has just announced he’s the latest of a string of top-flight filmmakers to be attached to a classic novel from the 1980s.
The Hollywood Reporter talked to Kapur at the annual Film Bazaar market in India, where the director told the trade that he’s now attached to direct “London Fields,” an adaptation of the 1989 novel by Martin Amis. The book, by the one-time enfant terrible of British literature (generally seen as his best), follows a group of characters, including a terminally-ill American and a psychic who predicts her own murder, in a near-future London. The film’s been in development at Muse Productions (“Buffalo 66,” “The Killer Inside Me“) for almost a decade, and David Cronenberg was attached as director for some time, while more recently Michael Winterbottom has been circling the project.
Kapur’s certainly a left-hand turn from those two, and the film marks his first contemporary setting since his English-language debut, although he did make a number of sci-fi tinged films in India, so the choice makes a little more sense. We may not have loved anything he’s done since “Elizabeth,” but we’re also happy to see him in work.
There’s no news if Gemma Arterton, who was said to have been cast in Winterbottom’s version in the key role of Nicola Six, is still involved. For one thing, the film doesn’t yet have a start date, with Kapur simultaneously working on “Paani,” along with a long talk about third “Elizabeth” movie, so it may turn out that he’s simply another in the long line of those who’ve tried and failed to make “London Fields.” We’ll find out in the coming months if he’s able to make it a reality.