The Oscar-winning screenwriter behind “Gladiator” is penning a new script that challenges Muslim stereotypes – a bio-pic of the most popular poet in America.
David Franzoni is at work on a film about 13th century poet and scholar Jalaluddin al-Rumi with filming scheduled to begin next year.
Though best known as a great poet, Rumi’s life is the stuff of a big screen adventure.
Franzoni compares the Sufi Muslim mystic to Shakespeare, saying he provided “enormous talent and worth” to his society and culture.
In 2014 he became the best selling poet in America, even though he died more than 800 years ago. Among his best known writings are The Masnavi, a six-book collection of stories and homilies, including folk tales and sacred history, that were composed for the benefit of his disciples in the Sufi order named after him known as the whirling dervishes.
“I think it’s a world that needs to be spoken to,” Franzoni told The Guardian, “Rumi is hugely popular in the United States. I think it gives him a face and a story.”
The movie hasn’t started casting yet, but there’s talk of Leonardo DiCaprio as the poet and Robert Downey, Jr. as Shams of Tabriz, a mentor who played a powerful influence on Rumi’s later writings. Through the use of huge Hollywood stars, the writer hopes to expose many more people to the genius that is Rumi.
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