Vikas Swarup, Om Puri in Cannes limelight

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By Saibal Chatterjee

Cannes, May 19 (IANS) Bestselling Indian author Vikas Swarup and veteran actor Om Puri are not physically present at the ongoing 62nd Cannes Film Festival but they are nonetheless receiving their share of media spotlight by virtue of being part of prestigious upcoming international movie projects.

Indian career diplomat Swarup, who hit the big time thanks to the worldwide success of Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire", an adaptation of his bestselling "Q&A", has made another breakthrough for Indian writers in English. His new book, "Six Suspects", which revolves around the killing of a playboy, is being developed by BBC Films into a new feature.

Interestingly, according to media reports here, the proposed film has an indirect link with Danny Boyle - it is being scripted by John Hodge, whose screenwriting credits include "Trainspotting" and "Shallow Grave", among other films directed by the Irish filmmaker. It is, however, not known yet who will be in the director's chair for the adaptation of "Six Suspects".

BBC Films has also announced a sequel to the 1999 hit "East is East" with Om Puri returning as the Pakistani fish and chips shop owner George Khan, who struggles to ensure that his brood stays within the strict confines of culturally appropriate behaviour.

It has been revealed that the new film, titled "West is West", begins after George Khan has relocated to Pakistan with his family.

While "West is West" will be directed by newcomer Andy DeEmmony, it will be scripted by Ayub Khan-Din who wrote "East is East". Most members of the original cast, including Jimi Mistry, will reprise their roles in the upcoming film.

The unlikeliest of Indian actors on the radar here is Mumbai-based Ayush Mahesh Khedekar, who played the youngest Jamal Malik in "Slumdog Millionaire". Khedekar has been signed up by Swiss producer-director Deborah Mangola for "Shyam's Secret", to be shot entirely in Goa.

Mangola, who is in Cannes to announce the new project, has already set up her production headquarters in Mumbai. "The film will roll in Goa by the end of the year," she says.

"Shyam's Secret", co-starring Kabir Bedi and his daughter-in-law Nisha Harale-Bedi, revolves around the friendship that develops between two children from different cultures, one an Indian boy, the other a European girl, who meet in Goa.

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