Alia to Play Ma Anand Sheela in Shakun Batra’s Film
Shakun Batra has locked down on Alia Bhatt for the role.
In The Actresses Roundtable 2019 with Rajeev Masand, which released on YouTube on 21 December, film critic Rajeev Masand has confirmed that Alia Bhatt will be playing the role of Ma Anand Sheela. Ma Anand Sheela was the former personal assistant of Bhagwan Rajneesh or Osho. In 2018, she featured extensively in a six-part Netflix documentary series based on the life and cult of Osho.
During the interview, Masand, while talking about biopics in Bollywood, says “Alia, I know that Shakun has you down for playing Ma Sheela.” In response to this comment, Alia looks away and pretends to not hear him. He then says, “I am not even asking. Sometimes we’re privileged to know some inside information.”
However, whether the project, being helmed by Shakun Batra, will be a docu-feature film or a fictionalised feature film is still unclear. In November, Netflix released the teaser for another documentary based on Ma Anand Sheela’s life. The teaser gave a preview of the compelling story of her life. The documentary is produced by Karan Johar. Shakun Batra is reportedly the executive producer on the same.
In 2018, there were rumours of Shakun Batra helming a film on controversial godman Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh or Osho and his personal secretary Ma Anand Sheela. Sources, then, had told The Quint that Aamir Khan had agreed to play Osho while Alia Bhatt has said yes to essaying the role of Ma Anand Sheela. However, the project had reportedly been shelved until October 2019 when pictures of Hiroo Johar with Ma Anand Sheela had surfaced on the internet. This sparked off more rumours yet again about the same project.
The good news is that Ma Anand Sheela is happy for Alia Bhatt to play her onscreen. According to a report by Hindustan Times, she recently said that “I feel she [Alia Bhatt] has the spunk in her that I had. Spunk is very necessary and it is very natural, it is not artificial, not cosmetic, it is genuine.”
Earlier, there were rumours that Priyanka Chopra might be starring in Ma Anand Sheela’s biopic. However, Ma Sheela has said that she has denied Priyanka permission to do so and has even sent her a legal notice.
“I told her I do not give her permission for the film because I have not chosen her. In Switzerland, we send legal notices very simply. I sent her an email which is accepted there as legal notice.”Ma Anand Sheela
She also added that she never heard back from Priyanka after that. “Not even a courtesy letter that they received my notice but that’s not an issue, maybe she never had the opportunity to meet me or make time to meet me and it is no big issue,” she added.
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