It was announced at Cannes this year that Vietnamese zen monk Thich Naht Hanh's biography of the Buddha, Old Path White Clouds,
would form the basis of Dr BK Modi's long gestating $120m Buddha
biopic. The film was originally floated 12 years ago at a time when
Mira Nair was set to direct, and has now - with the support of the
Dalai Lama - resurfaced driven by billionaire Indian media tycoon
Modi. The production is expected to be directed by Shekher Kapor
and executive produced by Michel Shane and Anthony Romano ("I Robot,"
"Catch Me If You Can") who have talked about making the film 'like
Gladiator meets Lawrence of Arabia'.
However, it is the involvement of Naht Hanh
that grabbed my interest. "I discovered the book two years ago
and it changed my life, and I felt it was up to me to share my
happiness with the world." says Modi of Naht Hanh's Old Path White Clouds,
which has sold 1m copies in the US. Exiled from his homeland of Vietnam
since the 60s only to return last year, author of some 80 books, Naht Hanh ('Thay') is tireless in speaking up for peace and
international understanding. In nominating him for the Nobel Peace
Prize, Dr Martin Luther King said: 'I do not personally know of anyone
more worthy of [this prize] than this gentle monk from Vietnam.
His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to
ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.' It's quite hard to
know what Dr King means without reading some of Thich Naht Hanh's
writing - what follows is an interview made shortly after September 11,
as he was promoting the book I first came across him through, Anger.