Priyanka Chopra will produce and star in a film about Ma Anand Sheela, the disciple and secretary of controversial Indian guru Rajneesh who managed his Rajneeshpuram community in Oregon, United States of America, reported Hindustan Times. Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Levinson (Rain Man, Bugsy, Wag the Dog) is the director.
Chopra made the announcement at The Ellen Show on Wednesday, where she was promoting her upcoming Hollywood film Isn’t It Romantic. “We’re [Chopra and Levinson] developing it as the character of Sheela who was this guru, who originated from India, his [Rajneesh’s] right-hand woman and she was just devious and created a whole cult in America,” Chopra explained to the audience at the show.
Ma Anand Sheela’s controversial story was charted in the popular Netflix docu-series called Wild Wild Country which traced the rise and fall of Rajneesh’s Oregon cult. Popularly known as Osho, Rajneesh rose as a guru in Mumbai and started an ashram in Pune which was famous for its unorthodox meditation techniques and sexual permissiveness. Sheela joined the Osho ashram in India and travelled with Rakneesh to Oregon in the 1980s to help set up a commune in Oregon. The controversial commune was disbanded in 1985 after it was found involved in a 1984 bioterror attack. Members of the cult had allegedly poisoned salad bars at local restaurants in the area surrounding the commune, whose residents had opposed the expansion of Rajneeshpuram, with the aim of rigging the local elections there.
After Sheela quit the commune in 1985 claiming she was opposed to Rajneesh’s outlandish lifestyle, the guru implicated Sheela as the mastermind of the bio-terror attack. Sheela fled to Germany but was extradited soon and charged with attempt to murder and immigration fraud, among other things. She pleaded guilty to the charges of immigration fraud and illegal interception of telephone calls and served 39 months of her 20-year sentence.
The film will be Chopra’s fourth Hollywood film after Baywatch (2017), A Kid Like Jake (2018) and Isn’t It Romantic. Chopra will also be seen in Shonali Bose’s upcoming Hindi film The Sky Is Pink.