MUMBAI: And you thought Tina Turner was just the diva of rock ‘n’ roll.
After drawing huge crowds with her high-voltage rock performances, Turner will now swing to a new tune: she will play a Hindu deity in a spiritual Merchant-Ivory musical for which she will also sing classical numbers in Latin and Sanskrit.
“I could think of no one but Tina Turner to play this part,” said Ismail Merchant who will direct The Goddess. “Her energy, her voice, her dancing — she’s mesmerising,” the 66-year-old New York-based film-maker said.
Turner, 64, who retired about four years ago after years of electrifying shows in leather minis, will portray Shakti in the film set in India and London.
Shakti is the deity of power who takes on the form of destroyer or creator. She is known by different names in different parts of the country.
The movie will trace the friendship between three Indian friends and focus on an American painter, played by Hollywood actor Matthew Modine, obsessed with the Indian deity.
In an effort to get to the soul of the role, Turner watched Hindu religious rituals in the ancient temple town of Banaras last week.
The singer, who has acted in Hollywood films such as Last Action Hero, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, quit the road four years ago after more than four decades.
She wrapped up her last series of 95 shows in 88 cities with a concert near Los Angeles in December 2000.
It was the close of a chapter on one of the most remarkable stories in rock ‘n’ roll history, which included chartbusters such as “What’s Love Got To Do With It”, “Private Dancer” and “Simply The Best”.
But Merchant, legendary for his persuasive powers, won Turner’s interest with his latest film idea.
“Her visit to the temples was an intense spiritual experience,” said the director, adding Turner was learning Indian classical music and Hindi to prepare for the film, which is expected to be completed early next year.
The Merchant-Ivory team has made about 50 movies, most of them lavish period films such as Howards End and Jefferson in Paris.