Ma Anand Sheela, ex-secretary of the late godman Bhagwan Rajneesh aka Osho, seems to have piqued the interest of Indian filmmakers who are willing to make shows and films based on her life. After the Netflix documentary series titled Wild Wild Country released in 2018, the life of Ma Anand Sheela or Sheela Birnstiel has become an interesting subject to explore. On April 22, a documentary titled Searching For Sheela will release on Netflix. Shakun Batra is the Executive Producer and the documentary is backed by Karan Johar's Dharmatic Entertainment.
Ahead of Searching For Sheela's release, Shakun and Sheela spoke to an entertainment portal about Priyanka Chopra Jonas starring in a project based on the same subject. For the unversed, Shakun is also working on a series on Sheela which might star Alia Bhatt. Talking about the rival project, Shakun said, "That's a separate show that Priyanka has been working on. People want to tell this story, and I can see why everyone is so keen, and I'm sure everyone has their own take on it." Shakun further added that he doesn't want any project to examine only the 'superficial' aspects of her Sheela's life.
Sheela added, "I'm a bad judge on that issue. I have no ability to judge someone in the film role. Only thing I would say I have been natural and Shakun (Batra) will have a hard task of looking for someone natural."
In 2019, Sheela sent a legal notice to Priyanka for doing the project without her permission. Talking to a leading daily, she said, "I told her I do not give her permission to do [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."
She further expressed her desire to see Alia in her biopic. She said, "I saw bits of a film that my sister was watching, and I thought, I looked like her when I was young. I asked my sister, ‘Did I look like her when I was young? Do you remember’? And she said, ‘Yes, you do’. I feel she 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."
On the other hand, Priyanka is developing a project on Sheela's life with Barry Levinson for Amazon. In an interview, the global star shared, "I am developing a feature with Barry Levinson. He is an iconic American director. We are developing it (from the perspective of) Sheela who is this guru who originated from India. She was Osho’s right-hand woman and she was devious. She created a whole cult in America. He was called Osho. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. I am developing that next for me to star in and produce."
(Source: Film Companion/ Hindustan Times)