DreamWorks Animation has put a project with the working title Monkeys of Bollywood, an animated musical feature set in modern-day Mumbai, on the development fast-track.
The film will be the first musical for DreamWorks and reunited the studio with executive producer and lyricist Stephen Schwartz, who worked with the studio on The Prince of Egypt and counts the musical Wicked and the Disney feature Enchanted among his credits.
Schwartz is working with executive producer and composer A.R. Rahman on the project, while Gurinder Chadha and Paul Burges, who worked together on Bend it Like Beckham and Bride & Prejudice, are writing the script.
“To reunite with Stephen Schwartz and work with such a celebrated team of artists on DreamWorks Animation’s first-ever CG animated feature musical project is incredibly exciting,” said DreamWorks Animation’s chief creative officer, Bill Damaschke. “Together we will create a movie that is full of magic, fantasy, adventure, comedy and emotion in which inspiring songs and dances will delight audiences everywhere.”
Inspired by the Indian epic tale of The Ramayana – but retold through the point of view of its monkeys – Monkeys of Bollywood revolves around two common monkeys who become unlikely heroes in a last ditch effort to stop an ancient, thought-to-be-mythical demon from conquering the world.
The subject matter is not without controversy. Prominent Hindu-American statesman Rajan Zed sending out a press release almost immediately after the news broke urging the studio to be cautious in how it handles the story as the Ramayana is a sacred scripture for Hindus. He says the “film should stay true to the story and the spirit of Ramayan. Insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes results in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols and hurting the devotees.”
No word on when the film could see release.