Following upon the stunning artistic and commercial success of “The Last Legion” (1, 2, UB40), co-stars Sir Ben and Aishwarya
Rai Bachchan have agreed to team up again, this time as Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Colin Firth is rumored to be considering the role of Aurangzeb .
The casting of Sir Ben is, in my mind, absolutely perfect. Shah Jahan’s marriage to Mumtaz at 19 has become a symbol of eternal love. Sir Ben also is a man who never stopped believing in love, having married his fourth wife at age 63, after the following:
“three failed marriages, four children by two different wives, a long-term live-in lover who was replaced by wife No 3 (also nearly half his age), whom he then jettisoned after discovering her embracing her lover in a photograph on the internet in 2005.” [Link]
Shah Jahan built a giant marble tomb to house his wife’s remains, as if she was a figure from ancient Egypt. Sir Ben feels the same way about wife #4:
“Daniela is like an ancient mythological princess. She has great deep dignity. She moves like an ocean liner…” [Link]
Shah Jahan is known not by his given name (“Prince Khurrum Shihab-ud-din Muhammad”) but by his title Shah Jahan or “King of the World” [wiki]. Krishna Bhanji cuts a regal figure and is also known by his title:
Sir Ben … [insists] that he be addressed as “Sir Ben” at all times. The title was included on his passport and other documentation after he received a knighthood in 2001, and he even signs emails SBK(as in Sir Ben Kingsley). Someone who unwittingly called him “Mr Kingsley” at a party received a stinging rebuke. “He looked at me in disgust,” the guest told the Mail, “then said: ‘You should call me Sir Ben’ and cut me dead.” [Link, rebuttal]
I can’t imagine a better bit of casting.
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