September 15, 2010, Updated September 24, 2012

The first Bollywood movie about the childhood of Jesus will be shot in Israel in the coming months, Indian filmmakers announced in August.

Director Singeetham Srinivasa Rao said his production will be narrated in four languages and feature an all-Indian cast of child actors and seven devotional songs.

Producer Konda Krishnam Raju told a news conference that while most films depict the later years, this one will focus on the childhood of Jesus, in what he called the first presentation of this type in Bollywood history.

Christians in India number 24 million, or about 2.3 percent of the country’s population. While the movie has special significance for Christians, it is intended for a global audience, according to Rao.

Religious Indian films have traditionally used child actors to highlight the innocence and sanctity of religious figures, the director said. Rao’s film will follow that tradition, using the child actors to depict adult characters as well as children.

American makeup artist Christien Tinsley, who worked on Mel Gibson’s controversial The Passion of the Christ, will work on the film. Gibson’s film sparked charges of anti-Semitism.

At $30 million, the filmmakers say the film about Jesus will be one of India’s highest-budget movies. An average Indian movie costs about $500,000.

Aditya Productions plans to release the movie next year in English and three Indian languages – Telugu, Hindi and Malayalam.

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