EXCLUSIVE: From The Lunchbox and Gangs Of Wasseypur producer Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, The Ashram is an English-language spiritual fantasy thriller set in the mystical world of Himalayan yogis. Production is just starting on the project, which has been kept under wraps in northern India. Ben Rekhi is directing Sam Keeley (Burnt, In the Heart of the Sea), who stars alongside Melissa Leo, Kal Penn, Hera Hilmar (Da Vinci’s Demons), and India’s Radhika Apte (Badlapur).
After receiving a cryptic message, American skeptic Jamie (Keeley) travels to the Indian Himalayas to pick up on the trail of his disappeared girlfriend. There, he discovers a secretive community led by a guru with strange powers who may or may not be involved in her disappearance. As Jamie travels deeper down the rabbit hole, he quickly realizes he may have uncovered more than he bargained for, and that this mysterious mountain may contain the secrets of reincarnation — and a portal to another dimension.
Second-time feature filmmaker and former IM Global executive Rekhi (Waterborne) is helming from a script he co-wrote with Binky Mendez. Shooting is scheduled from today through May 18 in Manali, India.
Monga is producing The Ashram with Brian Kavanaugh-Jones (Insidious) executive producing, and Mali Elfman (Before I Wake) co-producing. Among Monga’s credits, The Lunchbox and Gangs Of Wasseypur, are both considered pioneers of recent non-Bollywood indies to break out of India. The Lunchbox, directed by Ritesh Batra, ran in Cannes’ Critics Week in 2013 and was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics. It was later controversially not selected to represent India in the Foreign Language Oscar race despite being considered a strong possibility for a nomination. It did receive a BAFTA nomination for Film not in the English Language. The Lunchbox was also produced by Anurag Kashyap who directed 2012’s Gangs Of Wasseypur which was a big hit in Directors Fortnight that year.
“After the enthusiastic response globally to The Lunchbox, we are excited to continue bringing together some of the best and brightest talent from both sides of the world to India for The Ashram, a unique cinematic experience that will surprise and dazzle audiences,” says Monga.
Says Rekhi: “India is known to the West for its mysticism and spirituality, but the country’s rich and ancient philosophies have yet to be fully explored in cinema. With The Ashram we aim to take audiences to a far corner of the planet where magic is still possible, where the ancient collides with the modern and the unexplainable happens every day. We couldn’t be more fortunate to be working with such a talented and diverse group of people to bring this unseen world to the screen.”
Keeley is repped by CAA and 42; Leo is with CAA and Untitled Entertainment; and Penn is repped by UTA, Industry Entertainment and Fuller Law.