Shekhar Kapur was at his charming and eloquent best when he dropped into the Khaleej Times.
Ace filmmaker Shekhar Kapur was at his charming and eloquent best when he dropped into the Khaleej Times office on Tuesday to talk about his role as an advisor to the upcoming Expo 2020 Dubai. The director, best known for films like Masoom, Mr India, Bandit Queen and the Oscar-nominated Elizabeth, was ebullient in his praise of the event and what it entails.
"I'm an advisor to Expo 2020 and especially assigned to content - meaning - what are the stories we are telling in the parades, what are the stories we are telling in the opening and closing ceremonies; we have 60 events every day; what is there for people, what is there for kids - the idea of wondering. 192 countries are represented here, each one has its own pavilion that you can go through, but more than that, this Expo is not about separation or individuality but about being collective. So can we put it all together and see the future? Because it's time for the world to see the future; it's time for the planet to see its future. So, this Expo is about speaking into the future. You go there, you explore the planet, you explore yourself. You'll be entertained - it will be the most dazzling show."
Expo 2020 Dubai will take place form April 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021.
Kapur said that beyond all the dazzle there was a purpose to the highly anticipated event. "The purpose is scientific, the purpose is political, the purpose is emotional and the purpose has a lot to do with what the UAE and this region wants to do with its own future, which is to be the heart of a global movement of getting people together, of exploring what we can do about our oceans, exploring education, exploring what kids will do in the future. That's something I love, as portrayed in films like Mr India, kids coming into a sense of wonder. Each thing is designed in such a way that you can see a completely different idea, you decide how you are going to interpret what you see."
While reminding us that Expos started as a showpiece for industrialisation, he spoke about how the idea has progressed over the years. "(During Expo 2020) you can see how it all started with pearl diving here (in the UAE), you can see what's happening with the environment, you can go and explore the oceans, you can ask your own questions."
Kapur, a big believer in fate, waxed philosophical when it came to his involvement with Expo 2020, attributing it to 'destiny.'
He says he was taken aback when he visited the site. "It was huge - 400 acres of amazing designs and buildings that do things. a pavilion that has wings! It flies. A building that actually has wings? How could that be? The heart of the Expo is a place called Al Wasl. You walk in there and realise it's the biggest projection dome in the world and it has so many other technological things, so that artists will come and represent their art and who they are in a way that will completely dazzle you, and make you curious because why make technology in these places unless it inspires you to think in a different way."
Kapur also spoke about his involvement in the making of a biopic on the late Shaikh Zayed, the Founding Father of the UAE, and how he has been preparing for it by exploring the UAE desert. After a while, he says, he "started to hear stories from the sand."
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