Oscar-winning screenwriter David Franzoni has already started working on a biopic about Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī – a 13th-century Persian poet, scholar and Sufi mystic.
The movie, which will be created with the help of Turkish filmmakers, is expected to star Leonardo DiCaprio as Rumi, with Robert Downey Jr. playing the role of the poet’s spiritual instructor Shams Tabrizi.
This development has unsettled many Iranians, who expressed their displeasure on social media using hashtag #RumiWasntWhite, and an online petition against casting DiCaprio as Rumi has already gathered over 14,000 signatures.
"Do Western producers understand Eastern mysticism? Do they comprehend the meaning of the poem Masnavi? And can they [Americans] actually reach a necessary level of understanding of these things? Alas, the answer is negative," Iranian journalist and movie critic Reza Sadiq remarked.
Reza Mirkarimi, a famous Iranian movie director, screenwriter and producer, also told Sputnik that he doesn't consider filming such a movie a good idea.
"It is hard for a Western person to feel and to comprehend the spirituality, mysticism and depth of the inner world of Jalāl ad-Dīn Rūmī and many other famous Eastern poets and thinkers. Even the efforts of such powerful movie industry forces as Hollywood may not be enough," he explained.
Mirkarimi also confessed that the very concept of such a biopic doesn’t sit well with him, and he doubts that trying to lay bare the personality of a poet-mystic in such a fashion would be a good idea.