Over a year after its initial announcement, Priyanka Chopra Jonas' movie about Ma Anand Sheela and the Rajneesh movement is officially a go. Amazon Studios will make the drama, according to Deadline, with Nick Yarborough writing the script.
This post was originally published on January 30, 2019.
Did you binge all of Netflix's crazy cult documentary Wild, Wild Country when it dropped in March of last year? So did Priyanka Chopra Jonas — and she was so fascinated by it that she wants to bring the wild story to the big screen.
"I'm developing a feature with Barry Levinson. He did Rain Man, and he's this iconic American director. We are developing it [through] the character of Sheela. [There was] this guru who originated from India, [and Sheela was] his right-hand woman. She was just devious and created this whole cult in America and brought people here," Chopra revealed on the talk show. "I'm developing that next, for me to star in and produce it."
Could that mean that Chopra will play Sheela in the movie? It certainly sounds likely — and it's a seriously juicy role for the Quantico actress to play.
Sheela, known as Ma Anand Sheela, is the former spokesperson of the Rajneesh movement, which was under the leadership of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. She ran the group's compound near Antelope, Oregon, — called "Rajneeshpuram" — from 1981 through 1985. During that time, Rajneeshpuram became embroiled in a mess of legal battles with the neighboring communities, many of whom did not like that a "New Age sex cult" has moved in next door. The culture clash soon turned violent: Sheela allegedly ordered the largest bioterrorist attack on American soil.
Ultimately, Sheela was sentenced to 20 years in prison for a slew of crimes against the Oregonians, though she only served 29 months. She was released in 1988.
The intriguing part of this role is that Sheela isn't necessarily a cut-and-dry villain. While some people see Sheela as a criminal who poisoned salad bars at local restaurants in order to sway a political election in her favour (true story), others see her as a woman determined to protect her way of life and her people at all costs. Chopra's portrayal should, at the very least, humanize the woman that fascinated Netflix viewers in 2018.
Watch the full interview with Chopra's, below.