wild wild country movie

The Netflix true crime documentary series Wild Wild Country is getting a feature adaptation, with Priyanka Chopra starring. The doc followed the true story of Indian spiritual guru Bhagwan Rajneesh, who set up a community in Oregon. The community was intended to be a utopia, but resentment from locals, mixed with criminal activities from the inside, eventually destroyed everything. More on the Wild Wild Country movie below.

Wild Wild Country

During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, actress Priyanka Chopra revealed that she and filmmaker Barry Levinson are developing a feature film based on Netflix’s docu-series Wild Wild Country. Chopra will produce and star, and while she didn’t clarify which part she was playing, it certainly seems like she’ll taking on the role of Ma Anand Sheela. As Chopra told DeGeneres, “We’re developing it as the character of Sheela, who was this guru who originated from India, his right-hand woman. And she was just devious and created a whole cult in America, brought people here.”

Sheela was the assistant to Indian spiritual guru Bhagwan Rajneesh, and helped him and his followers set up the Rajneeshpuram community located in Wasco County, Oregon. As the documentary revealed, Sheela was an allegedly very dangerous person, and engaged in several criminal activities behind-the-scenes – including “the attempted murder of Rajneesh’s physician, wiretapping and bugging within the commune and within Rajneesh’s home, poisonings of two public officials, and arson.” Here’s the synopsis of the original Netflix series:

When the world’s most controversial guru builds a utopian city in the Oregon desert, a massive conflict with local ranchers ensues; producing the first bioterror attack in US history, the largest case of illegal wiretapping ever recorded, and the world’s biggest collection of Rolls-Royce automobiles. Over six episodes, Directors Chapman Way and Maclain Way (The Battered Bastards of Baseball) and executive producers Mark and Jay Duplass (Duplass Brothers Productions) take viewers back to this pivotal, yet largely forgotten moment in American cultural history, one in which our national tolerance for the separation of church and state was sorely tested.

The docu-series was highly engrossing, and showed not only the faults of certain members of Rajneeshpuram community, but also the racism and prejudice of the locals who immediately resented them before anything bad had actually happened. In short, no one comes across looking very good. The story certainly has all the makings of a great movie, and indeed, while the docu-series was entertaining, it started to run out of steam when stretched to multiple episodes. Condensing it into one film might yield better results – as long as its done correctly. Telling the story from the point of view of Sheela makes sense, but I really hope they don’t try to paint her as sympathetic. Chopra does call Sheela “devious”, but if you’ve seen the doc, you know that’s a bit of an understatement.

THR says Chopra is partnering with Barry Levinson on the project, though it’s not clear if Levinson is directing or just helping produce.

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