As The Namesake takes to the screen, director Mira Nair announces her next project will be Warner Bros. big-budget Shantaram, starring Johnny Depp as an Australian heroin addict who, escaping imprisonment, fakes identity as doctor caring for those sentenced to life in Bombays slums, and gets invoved with counterfeiting, gun-running and smuggling to provide medicine for the destitute.
According to Variety, Nairs attachment to the project means the film is back on track after Peter Weir withdrew last summer, and production is likely to start this fall for a possible 2008 release.
Nair will direct Eric Roths screenplay, based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Gregory David Roberts. Graham Kings Initial Entertainment Group, Depps Infinitum Nihil and Brad Pitts Plan B are producing.
Shantaram will bring Nair back to India, where shes currently filming a documentary about the Beatles, and most recently shot parts of The Namesake, a Fox Searchlight picture which goes into limited release on March 9, breaking wider throughout the month.
Nairs previous films include 2004s Vanity Fair, starring Reese Witherspoon and Salaam Bombay!, Monsoon Wedding, Hysterical Blindness, Mississippi Masala, and others.
Nair was born in India, educated at Delhi University and Harvard. Before directing fiction features, she was an actor and made award-winning documentaries. Her company, Mirabai Films, is currently producing a series of four films to raise awareness about the AIDS epidemic in India. In 2003, she founded Maisha, an annual filmmakers lab held in Uganda to support visionary screenwriters and directors in East Africa and South Asia.