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Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

#INSPIRED: Hansal Mehta to create film about India's gay community

Acclaimed filmmaker Hansal Mehta is to direct a film about the struggles faced by the gay community in India.

Mehta is renowned for films about those on the margins of Indian society and said the inspiration came from an email he received from a young gay Indian woman.

"It's a story that was mailed to me by a girl called Ishani Banerji.  It just blew my mind.  I have to tell this story because marginalised people in our society always interest me", Mehta said.

Mehta added he intends to cast Nawazuddin Siddiqui in the film. 

"I need an older actor to play the gay character.  The story takes the character through a very wide chronological arc.  Nawaz is more suited to the character."

Mehta's upcoming film will be about another ostracized community in India: the rural migrants who flock to the big cities in search of work.

'City Lights' is reportedly adapted from the critically-acclaimed British-Filipino production 'Metro Manila' and stars the director's regular collaborator Rajkummar Rao, who won the National Award for Best Actor for his turn as the murdered Muslim lawyer and human rights campaigner Shahid Azmi in Mehta's powerful biopic 'Shahid'. 

'City Lights' tells the story of an impoverished young couple who move to Mumbai and become lost among the countless, anonymous millions forced to subsist on the margins of society.

"We've stopped seeing these nameless migrants in the cities. Their lives never concerned us. Now they've become invisible", Mehta continued.

Rao will star alongside his rumoured real-life girlfriend Patralekha in the film. 

Both actors were deliberately placed in what Mehta describes as "harsh" conditions to help them get into character. 

"My producers Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt were willing to provide all the comforts required for shooting.  However, I deliberately made them shoot under gruelling conditions. No make-up van, no luxuries were allowed."

There is already a steady buzz about the film and in particular about Rao's acting with Mehta's long-term editor Apurva Asrani describing Rao as "sensational" in the role.

The 29-year-old star is arguably the most respected young acting talent in Bollywood and has been steadily building a fabulous body of work, from Dibakar Banerjee's 'Love Sex Aur Dhoka' through Anurag Kashyap's 'Gangs of Wasseypur' and 'Kai Po Che' to his acclaimed role in 'Shahid'.

'City Lights' is certain to be yet another memorable addition to his filmography and it certainly won't stop there.

Rao is reportedly working with Mehta on a lavish "biographical" film set in the glamorous Bollywood of the 1950's.

Official theatrical trailer of 'City Lights':

 

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