That Buddhism is followed by over a billion people was one of the main reasons Benegal chose the peacemaker of 2600 BC as his hero. The values of compassion and humanity that Buddhism preaches have ensured its spread over the ages.
But what fascinated Benegal the most was the "evolution from Siddharth to Buddha". "It's a magnificent story to tell," reasoned the film-maker.
Besides, the subject, Benegal feels, is also relevant to the world we are living in today – with incidents of terrorism, bombings and kidnappings every other day. There is a pressing need to bring to life a peacemaker of the past, if not in real life, at least on reel.
The backdrop of a past era has made it even more interesting for Benegal to bring the ancient story on screen. At the same time, Benegal insisted that the film is "by no means a religious story", with more stress on "the way you live and conduct yourself in life".
Benegal feels Buddha's character is also meant to inspire people as he faced innumerable hurdles during his transformation from Siddharth to Buddha. "His life itself is a message," said Benegal.
-Arindam Guha (SAMPURN)