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Julia Roberts to shoot film in India?

February 13, 2009 15:01 IST

Julia Roberts could be back in India in a few months but it won't be for a vacation. The 41-year-old actress will be shooting for a film produced by Brad Pitt's company. Based on the international bestseller memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which has been translated into at least 31 languages and sold over 7.5 million copies, the film will explore a divorced woman's journey in search of restoration of her body and soul --- and her quest for love.

Writer Elizabeth Gilbert (The Last American Man) went to Italy (in search of great food) and India (in search of inner bliss) and landed in Indonesia where she found love. The book's title also adds: One woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia.

Roberts, whose own production company Red Om recently signed a production deal with India's Reliance Big Films, will play Gilbert who gave up on her pretty home near New York, a comfortable life and a husband when she thought she was not living a life she wanted.

When the critically acclaimed book became a big hit, scores of producers chased the movie rights but Gilbert spurned them. She sold the book only when Roberts committed to the movie.

The paperback edition of the book recently completed 100 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, most of it at the very top. It was named as one of the 100 most notable books of 2006, when it was first published. Is was also chosen by Entertainment Weekly as one of the best 10 non-fiction books of the year.  In 2008, she was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, by Time Magazine.

Gilbert's readers often ask her about going to an ashram in India.

'The ashram where I studied is too small these days to accept new applicants -- and generally speaking they only have resources for teaching their long-term students,' she notes on her blog. 'But there are many other wonderful resources out there for beginning meditators. If you're interested in travel to India, the most useful book is called From Here to Nirvana -- The Yoga Journal Guide to Spiritual Travel in India, which is a comprehensive review of dozens of spiritual outlets across India, written with practicality, humour and honesty.

'Also keep in mind what my mom told me once when I said, 'Someday I'd like to get a boat and sail around the world!' She replied, 'Why don't you start by going sailing for an afternoon, and see if you like it?' Moving to India is a big step. Try a weekend meditation retreat first, just to see if you respond to it. Or begin a meditation practice at home.

The trade publication The Hollywood Reporter recently disclosed that Columbia Pictures is negotiating to get the movie rights from Paramount Pictures, which for some mysterious reason, lost interest in the project it had signed on to two years ago. 

Roberts, who has said she loves playing strong-willed women (as in Erin Brockovich that fetched her only Oscar), could indeed have a fulfilling time playing Elizabeth Gilbert.

Eat, Pray, Love could be her next major movie for her following the soon-to-be-released corporate thriller Duplicity. But unlike that film, in which she shares many screen moments with the leading man Clive Owen, Eat, Pray, Love will give a monopoly of its action. Gilbert hopes that the movie, like the book, will not nudge people from giving up on their troubled marriages and go globetrotting.

'The last thing I ever want to become is the Poster Child for Everyone Must Leave Their Husband And Move To India In Order To Find God,' she has said. 'I drew up my journey as a personal prescription for solving my life. Transformative journeys come in many forms, though, and often happen without people ever leaving home. Divinity is available everywhere, at all times. People find their way to God during wars, in the middle of traffic jams and in small prison cells.'

Arthur J Pais