EXCLUSIVE: Zafar Hai and Tabrez Noorani have made a deal to option screen rights to Spy Princess: The Life Of Noor Inayat Khan by Shrabani Basu. Who are these guys? Hai, a director who is managing partner of Haimark Films International, has twice won the Filmfare Award (India’s equivalent of the Oscar) and helmed The Perfect Murder for Merchant Ivory. Noorani, his nephew, is the prolific line producer of Slumdog Millionaire, the Kathryn Bigelow-directed Zero Dark Thirty, the Ang Lee-directed Life Of Pi, Misson: Impossible–Ghost Protocol and Alexander. His company is India Take One Productions.
Spy Princess tells the remarkable story of a heroic woman, Noor Inayat Khan. Under the code name Madeleine, she was trained by Britain’s Special Operations Executive and became the first female wireless operator to be flown into occupied France during World War II. She infiltrated into the Paris area, where within days of her arrival almost her entire circuit was arrested by the Gestapo, making ‘poste-Madeleine’ the last radio link between France and England. The book details Noor’s life from her birth in 1914 in Moscow to an American mother and an Indian Muslim father who founded the first Sufi Order in the West, through to her death at the hands of the Gestapo in 1944. It has been called one of World War II’s most inspirational stories. Basu’s book, Victoria & Abdul: The True Story Of The Queen’s Closest Confidant, was optioned by Working Title last year. Hai and Noorani are shortly scheduled to visit London to find a screenwriter. They are represented by Julia Scott of Rufus-Isaacs, Acland & Grantham, LLP.