Oscar winning Hollywood classic “Casablanca” will soon pop out the cans in an Indian avatar, titled “Ezham Mudra” (The Seventh Seal). Director Rajeev Nath will swap Rick’s Café Americain for Dev’s Inn, a restaurant not in the Moroccan desert, but on the beaches of God’s Own Country, Kerala.
If helmer Michael Curtiz used the notes of a piano to evoke romance between Rick and Ilsa in wartime Paris and Vichy-controlled Casablanca, Nath will draw on the bloody Sri Lankan civil strife to create melody and mood for his version of three little people. Dashing Humphrey Bogart will be reborn as Suresh Gopi, a popular Malayalam film star, and ravishing Ingrid Bergman will transform into Bollywood’s sexy siren Mandira Bedi.
|Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in 'Casablanca'|
Gopi, essaying diplomat-turned-restaurateur Dev, not a rebel fighter-mellowed-salon-keeper settling in Casablanca for its waters, will woo Bedi with “Here’s looking at you, kid”, a line immortalised in the chronicles of cinema. With a song on his lips and beat on his toes -- and perhaps a tabla master replacing pianist Sam -- Dev will stir up memories of Rick and his rings of smoke. He may also get to frolic with Bedi on the waves to the lilting tune of “As Time Goes By”.
Nath will be a pioneer at this remake of sorts. Several earlier attempts, including a request to Francois Truffaut who refused, were in vain.
Interestingly, “Ezham Mudra” will use the Sri Lankan war that has left 70,000 people dead since 1983 to give a contemporary feel. And Nath’s Victor Laszlo will be a Tamil revolutionary fleeing into India.
The movie will go on the floors in September 2007 and premier early next year at Casablanca, where once Bogart and Bergman discovered Paris all over again.
(Webposted August 15 2007)