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Indian filmmaker plans Christ biopic

Singeetham Srinivasa Rao to shoot pic in Israel

Veteran Indian helmer Singeetham Srinivasa Rao, who has more than 50 films to his credit, will shoot a film on the life of Jesus Christ on location in Israel.

The film will have a cast of child actors and a voiceover narration by South Indian star Pawan Kalyan.

Konda Krishnam Raju, who produced the 2006 Hindu devotional “Sri Ramadasu,” is producing the untitled film via his Aditya Prods.

The 195-minute epic will have English, Hindi, Malayalam and Telugu-language versions.

Raju is awaiting clearance from the Palestinian Authority to shoot in Bethlehem and Jericho. Filming is expected to begin in October for a 2011 release.

The budget is estimated at $30 million, although Raju would not confirm that at a press conference in Jerusalem on Tuesday, saying only that the budget was going to be “huge.”

If that figure is accurate, it will be the second most expensive Indian film ever after S. Shankar’s “Endhiran,” which cost $32 million and is due out this month.

In 1978 director A. Bhimsingh made the Telugu-language “Karunamayudu” on the life of Christ that was dubbed into a number of other local languages.

There are 24 million Christians in India, about 2.3% of the country’s population.