Kingsley's SBK announces 'Taj'

Historical epic features 'Gandhi' star, former Miss World

NEW DELHI -- Sir Ben Kingsley's SBK Pictures has announced its historical epic “Taj” will begin filming in mid to late 2010, with Kingsley in the lead role as Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

Superstar Bollywood actress and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan will co-star as Mumtaz, Shah Jahan's wife, for whom the Taj Mahal was built.

SBK said “Taj” is still out to directors with a screenplay just completed by British playwright and novelist David Ashton. With an estimated budget of $25-30 million, “Taj” will be produced by Kingsley, along with his SBK producing partners Simone Sheffield and Valerie Hoffman.

“With my passion for India and the Taj Mahal now becoming one of the Seven Wonders of the World, I am compelled to ask 'why' and 'how' this scream of grief frozen in marble came into being. We have a beautiful script by David Ashton and my colleagues Simone and Valerie are poised to make the long period of hard work justified in a film. We so look forward to working with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and all the other great creative souls this project is already attracting.”

SBK Pictures was formed in 2007 by Sir Ben Kingsley and his producing partners Simone Sheffield and Valerie Hoffman. The first project for the production house was as co-producer on Sony Pictures Classic’s “The Wackness," starring Kingsley, Famke Janssen, Josh Peck, Olivia Thirlby and Mary-Kate Olsen.