Noor Inayat: international story with an Indian soul

Filmmakers Tabrez Noorani and Zafar Hai are bringing the story of "spy princess" Noor Inayat Khan on the big screen. The latter says it is an "international story" with an "Indian soul".

Wednesday, October 03, 2012 | 8:53:11 AM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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Noor Inayat Khan

Filmmakers Tabrez Noorani and Zafar Hai are bringing the story of "spy princess" Noor Inayat Khan on the big screen. The latter says it is an "international story" with an "Indian soul".

The uncle-nephew duo of Hai and Noorani have acquired the rights of London-based Indian journalist-turned-author Shrabani Basu's book "Spy Princess, The Life of Noor Inayat Khan" to adapt it on big screen.

While Noorani is based in Los Angeles, Hai is in Mumbai.

"When I read the book, I felt it was a great story and had the potential to be adapted into a film. It is a story of a spy, but at the same time it has a human angle to it too. Moreover, Inayat's character has different shades and a lot of appeal to it too," Hai told IANS on phone from Mumbai.

He added: "It is an international story with an Indian soul to it. This is an unusual mix and would definitely appeal to global audience."

Born in Moscow, Noor-un-Nisa Inayat Khan had an Indian connection. Her father Hazrat Inayat Khan was the great grandson of Tipu Sultan, the 18th century ruler of the erstwhile Mysore kingdom.

Trained by Britain's Special Operations Executive, Inayat was the first female wireless operator to be flown into Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

On her arrival in France almost her entire circuit was arrested by the Gestapo, the secret police of Nazi Germany and German-occupied Europe.

She was the only link left between France and England. The book details Noor's life from her birth in 1914 in Moscow to an American mother and an Indian Muslim father to her death at the hands of Gestapo in 1944. She was just 30.

Confident about its global appeal, Hai said that the flow of emotions in the story "attracted" him the most.

"You have someone who is standing up to fanaticism and fighting for an allied cause. It also has a love angle to it where a Muslim girl falls in love with a Jewish man. The story has a lot of heart into it. This story will appeal to different parts of the world," he added.

The film is in pre-production stage and the duo will soon be flying off to London to finalise a leading British screenplay writer for the film. They are yet to decide the director as well as the actress to play a lead role.

"We are trying to rope in a leading British screenwriter. But it is too early to talk about it. I can just say it is an international film and will cater to the world market," said Hai.

The producers are planning to shoot the film in Britain, France and India.

Asked if they plan to cast any Indian artists in the film, Hai said: "At the moment we are just focussing on the story element. The cast would indeed include Indian artists as Inayat has an Indian connection. Her family plays an important part, but at the same time it will have a strong British element also."

He admits that making a period film is painstaking and says: "It is hard to make a period film, but I personally enjoy it. I am attracted towards the idea of recreating the period era and when you have the support of leading technicians, the work becomes all the more interesting."

(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at

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