"She created a whole cult in America."
Indian actress Priyanka Chopra has revealed her next Hollywood film. She will be playing the role of Ma Anand Sheela, the disciple of spiritual leader Osho.
The film, which is titled Ma Anand Sheela, will trace the life of the controversial right-hand woman of Osho, AKA Rajneesh.
Barry Levinson, who won an Oscar for 1988 film Rain Man, is set to direct the biopic.
Priyanka revealed all about the new project on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She was promoting her upcoming film Isn’t It Romantic, when she made the announcement.
She said: “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 his [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. It was amazing.
“I am developing that next for me to star in and produce.”
— #jess (@hipslikePC) January 30, 2019
The film is based on Netflix’s documentary Wild Wild Country, which followed Osho’s cult-like community, Rajneeshpuram, which was run by Ma Anand Sheela in Oregan, USA.
Ellen DeGeneres mentioned the documentary series and said: “It’s a really interesting story.”
Ma Anand Sheela is a highly controversial individual whose life is full of events. She has been convicted multiple times for attempted murder.
After an altercation with locals in 1984, Sheela conspired to use “bacteria and other methods to make people ill.” This resulted in the salad bars at 10 local restaurants being infected with salmonella.
Approximately 750 people became ill as a result of Sheela’s actions.
After fleeing the cult, Osho himself accused his personal secretary of arson, wiretapping, attempted murder and mass poisoning.
She committed other crimes as this led to her being sentenced to three 20-year terms in prison. Sheela was released 39 months into her sentence for good behaviour.
Sheela later moved to Switzerland, where she lives now.
Alia Bhatt was also rumoured to be playing Sheela in a film based on Osho. She stated that it was her dream role, but neither confirmed nor denied taking on the role.
It is a role which may be one of the most demanding especially because of the impact Sheela had throughout Oregon. But, Priyanka is more than capable in portraying such a talked-about figure during a piece of American history which seems to be forgotten.